MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Marine Corps life is not for everyone. For the few and proud who graduate recruit training, some find the Marine Corps is not exactly how their recruiters described it. Many finish their initial contracts and return to the civilian world. A few will try another enlistment term just to be sure. Some will continue on to complete 20 years of the Marine lifestyle.
Those who choose to make the Marine Corps their life and stay on until retirement often find the road long, but rewarding.
One such Marine, 1st Sgt. Darrell R. Settlemire, Delta Company first sergeant with 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, finally bid the Marine Corps adieu Dec. 16 after 22 years of dedicated service.
“He was one of the most brilliant leaders the Marine Corps ever had,” said Capt. Hunter R. Rawlings, Delta Company commanding officer with 3rd LAR. “He’s moving on to be with his son and his family.”
Settlemire received a Meritorious Service Medal for committing 22 years of his life faithfully to the Marine Corps.
“I had the pleasure of being the individual who submitted the award, but it was a joint effort writing it,” said Rawlings. “We’ve all come to respect his leadership.”
Settlemire enlisted in the Marine Corps June 18, 1983, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif.
After doing on-the-job-training with Charlie Battery, 1st Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, as an artillery cannon crewman, he moved on to India Battery, 3rd Battalion, 12th Marines, in Okinawa, Japan, in May 1985.
He later went on to Security Supervisors’ Course in June 1989, and upon graduation, reported to Marine Corps Security Forces Company, Keflavik, Iceland.
In July 1991, he moved on from security forces to return to the artillery field where he served with various batteries.
He then reported to Drill Instructor School, MCRD San Diego in January 1996. He spent two years on the drill field before returning once again to the artillery field.
From July 2000 to January 2004, he served as an instructor at the Staff Noncommissioned Officers’ Academy in Okinawa, Japan.
Eventually, he transferred to 3rd LAR in February 2004 to take what would be his final position. During his tour, he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom 2 in Al Anbar province.
“In combat, he was an inspiration,” said Rawlings. “In garrison, he was as much a manager as a mentor. He took the time to explain things to the junior Marines. He’s had a lasting effect on the company.”
During Settlemire’s deployment to Iraq, an improvised explosive device took him out of the fight, but he chose to remain with his Marines.
“I will always credit him for the success Company D experienced during our last deployment to Iraq,” said Sgt. Maj. Leland W. Hatfield, battalion sergeant major, 3rd LAR. “He was one of the first in his company to be wounded by an IED. He not only refused to be med-evaced from the initial engagement, but he made it very clear he had no intentions of leaving his Marines under any circumstances. This level of bravery and courage served to feed the tenacious spirit of those around him and culminated in the successful operations of his company as they spent the entire deployment separated from the Battalion.”
A fellow instructor at the Staff Academy with Settlemire, 1st Sgt. Charles Dural, Alpha Company first sergeant, 3rd LAR, enjoyed his time working with and knowing Settlemire.
“He’s had an outstanding career, just from his outstanding contributions to the company alone,” said Dural. “He’s a great mentor. His door is always open, and he’s very knowledgeable. It’s sad to see him go, but I’m happy for him.”
Staff Sgt. Osbaldo Noriega, administration chief with 3rd LAR, said he quickly came to respect Settlemire’s leadership of Marines.
“From the moment I got here, I saw he takes care of the Marines,” said Noriega, who’s been with 3rd LAR for only a few months.
Rawlings said he enjoyed working with Settlemire and sent him off with fond words for his future. “Good luck, Godspeed and Semper Fidelis. He’ll always have a place here in Delta Company.”