Marines

Photo Information

Gunnery Sgt. James Sterling, the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group, looks up as he calls in coordinates of a possible target during a practice call-for-fires drill, in Cape Wrath, Scotland, April, 23, 2018. 4th ANGLICO is in Scotland to take part in Joint Warrior 18-1, an exercise that furthers their readiness and effectiveness in combined arms integration, small unit tactics and land navigation. This training aims at improving their capabilities and combat effectiveness and ensures they're ready to fight tonight.

Photo by Cpl. Dallas Johnson

Hometown Heroes of Joint Warrior 18: Gunnery Sgt. James Sterling

4 May 2018 | Cpl. Dallas Johnson Marine Corps Forces Reserves

Many Marines, after serving an enlistment or two, make the conscious decision to take the knowledge and skills they learned from the Marine Corps and take them into the civilian workforce. For Gunnery Sgt. James Sterling, the things he learned in his eight years of active duty service as a radio operator were well deserving of a job in any field he so chose. But, as time would tell, something was missing. He wanted back in.

In 2009, after taking two years off of serving, Sterling decided to come back as a Reserve Marine with 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, Force Headquarters Group. As a native of Tampa, Florida, Sterling, now the staff non-commissioned officer in charge of 4th ANGLICO, is furthering his almost 17 years of experience at Joint Warrior 18, and sharing new insights with the Marines under his stead.

Reserve Marines, like Sterling, spend a minimum of two consecutive weeks each year furthering their capabilities at annual training exercises across the globe. This year, he and his West Palm Beach, Florida, based 4th ANGLICO company are taking advantage of Scotland's cold and rugged terrain to test their mettle in an environment completely opposite of where they're from.

“This is probably one of the best exercises that ANGLICO can be a part of,” said Sterling. “Joint Warrior brings everything we do into one area. With so much to do, we're lucky to have the opportunity to be a part of it all. And, we get to do it with a dozen other countries. Since my first Joint Warrior, any opportunity I'm offered to come back and train, I'll do it.”

As an active duty radio operator and now Reserve Anglican, Sterling quickly realized that he could use his years of Marine Corps experience and transition into the civilian sector for a company that provides satellite nodes to all U.S. special operations forces, and it's partner nation's SOFs.

“The big “L” in ANGLICO is liaison,” said Sterling. “Being able to meet and work with other country's services and armed forces is a big thing that we do at ANGLCIO. Our job is to attach to units that don't have JTACs or JFOs and provide that service to them. I can now bring those services to the civilian side of my job because we don't work with just American special forces, but all special forces that work underneath them. It gives me a better appreciation of how we all fit together.”

With his years of service, which includes deployments to Afghanistan, Iraq, Central America and countries all over Europe, to the experiences gained from exercises African Lion and Emerald Warrior, and previous iterations of Joint Warrior, Sterling has the hope that he can share his biggest piece of advice to all Marines.

“You just have to put yourself out there,” said Sterling. “The older I get, I see a lot of younger people and how hard it is for them to get out of their shell. You have to push to get new experiences. What I do for my Marines is show them there are no real barriers. You have to be willing to walk, talk and do whatever you have to do, and you'll have a successful career. As long as you're willing to put in the effort, you can do anything you want in the Marine Corps.”

With that mindset and no sight of slowing down, Sterling will be utilizing the lessons and skills he's learned to not only further himself, but to also further his current Marines and the ones that will be attached to 4th ANGLICO in the future. For now, though, he's planning on continuing the long haul of juggling his Marine Corps commitments and obligations to 4th ANGLICO with his civilian life in the special operations community.