Two Countries; One Marine


running up that hill
Jan 3, 2007
in Wonderland, with my Alice

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Republic of the Philippines – Marines throughout the world hold a special bond of brotherhood. One Marine in the southern Philippines was able to honor this brotherhood through recognizing another’s achievement of gaining the highest enlisted rank in the Marine Corps.

Master Gunnery Sgt. Stephen P. Doherty was promoted, Aug. 2, by Philippine Marine Lt. Gen. Ben Dolorfino, Commander, Western Mindanao Command, along with JSOTF-P commander, Capt. Robert Gusentine.

“It’s a great and unique honor,” said Doherty. “Not a lot of Marines can say they were promoted by a Philippine Marine general, the most senior Philippine marine.”

“We share the same values as Marines,” said Dolorfino. “Although we’re from different countries, we share the same code of honor and traditions that transcend cultural differences.”

“This promotion is more than just a new title and additional pay,” said Dolorfino. “It is a reward for your demonstrated leadership and accomplishments. This promotion is about the new responsibility and authority the Marines have bestowed upon you.”

Doherty, a native of Minneapolis, Minn., enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1984, beginning his career as a Korean cryptologic linguist at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif. Over the next twenty-six years, he served across a broad spectrum of assignments, from deployments to South Korea with 1st and 2nd Radio Battalions, to recruiting duty in Austin, Texas.

Other assignments included Electronic Warfare chief and Intelligence chief at Tactical Training and Exercise Control Group in Twenty-nine Palms and a 13-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to coming to JSOTF-P, Doherty served 4 years in Okinawa, Japan, as Signals Intelligence Electronic Warfare Chief.

“In twenty-six years, I’ve been a few places,” he said.

The recent promotion ceremony added a new milestone to his long list of accomplishments.

“It’s an interesting conclusion to a career,” he said. “And I’m pretty thrilled with that.”

Doherty has had the pleasure of meeting Dolorfino once before.

“I met Gen. Dolorfino prior, when he was commandant of the Philippine Marine Corps. His sergeant major is a mutual acquaintance of some of my very good friends here, so I’ve also had the opportunity to meet Sgt Maj. Edilberto Lustre, who is now the sergeant major of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.”

At the flag raising and promotion ceremony, Dolorfino expressed a higher meaning of the event.

“This ceremony signifies, not only our shared values in honoring our flag, but also the shared history of our governments working together.”

The promotion ceremony is a continuation of past award ceremonies conducted between WMC and JSOTF-P where more than 80 U.S. service members were presented the Philippine Military Civic Action Medal for their contribution to peace and stability in southern Mindanao.

After his six-month tour in the southern Philippines is concluded, Doherty plans to finish his career at Camp Lejune where a deployment to Afghanistan is on the horizon.

“It’s a great honor and privilege.”