MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
The U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Regiment recently convened it’s inaugural meritorious promotion board to review the records of qualified wounded, ill and injured Marines for promotion consideration. Cpl. Anthony Arriaga who is stationed at the Wounded Warrior Battalion West, made history as the first recovering Marine to be meritoriously promoted to the rank of sergeant.
“I am honored to receive this rank and continue my service to this nation,” said Arriaga who did not realize that he was the first wounded Marine promoted based on the recently approved promotion authority.
Prior to a recent change in policy, recovering Marines were not separately eligible for meritorious promotion consideration. The new policy will afford wounded, ill and injured Marines assigned and attached to the Regiment with a similar opportunity to be considered for meritorious promotion to corporal and sergeant like Marines in other units. The new authority will also allow Marines, who are otherwise qualified, to not lose their eligibility for promotion consideration due to hospitalization or temporary limited duty as a result of wounds or injuries.
“It is necessary for the Regiment to continue holding merit promotions for [wounded, ill and injured] Marines, because it provides a sense that they can progress further,” said Arriaga. “A lot of Marines want to continue to serve. This is a great morale booster and they can see themselves progressing in their Marine Corps career.”
Sgt. Arriaga who was shot by a sniper during a fire fight in 2010 while conducting combat operations in Marjeh, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, continues to contribute to the development of other Marines through his briefings to Non-Commissioned Officers and Staff-Non Commissioned Officers at the School of Infantry on the capabilities of Wounded Warrior Battalion West.
“Sgt. Arriaga was selected because he demonstrates superior leadership and exemplary professionalism,” said Lt. Col. James Fullwood, Wounded Warrior Battalion West commanding officer. “Despite facing numerous difficult challenges during his recovery, he has overcome every obstacle while remaining true to Marine Corps and his fellow Marines. He is the epitome of a Marine NCO who leads from the front and has always maintained himself as an example to all.”
“I was just doing what I thought any NCO should be doing regardless of where I was stationed- Wounded Warrior Battalion or any other Marine Corps unit. I was not going to stop doing my job just because I was injured.”
Arriaga’s current military occupational specialty is an 0311 rifleman. He is considering a lateral move into the intelligence field and is very appreciative of this opportunity. “I would not be able to pick up sergeant in my current area because of the downsizing in my MOS. I am very grateful.”