Mersino, John, SgtMaj

Specific Billet MOS
 Service Photo 
 Service Details
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Current Service Status
USMC Retired
Current/Last Rank
Sergeant Major
Current/Last Primary MOS
9999-Sergeant Major/First Sergeant
Current/Last MOSGroup
Specific Billet MOS
Previously Held MOS
9900-General Service Marine
1371-Combat Engineer
1360-Construction Officer
8511-Drill Instructor
1379-Engineer Operations Chief
0169-Admin Chief
Primary Unit
2002-2005, 9999, US European Command (EUCOM)
Service Years
1972 - 2005
Foreign Language
Official/Unofficial USMC Certificates
Cold War Certificate
Plank Owner Certificate
Operation Enduring Freedom
Marine Combat Water Survival Qualified (WSQ)

Sergeant Major

Eight Hash Marks


 Official Badges 

US European Command Tan Belt USMC Retired Pin

 Unofficial Badges 

Drill Instructor US Marines Corps Honorable Discharge Cold War Medal

 Military Association Memberships
USMC Drill Instructors AssociationNon-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA)Marine Corps Association and Foundation (MCA&F)Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW)
Marine Corps League
  1998, USMC Drill Instructors Association [Verified]
  2002, Non-Commissioned Officers Association (NCOA)
  2005, Marine Corps Association and Foundation (MCA&F) [Verified]
  2008, Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States (VFW) [Verified]
  2010, Marine Corps League [Verified]

 Additional Information
What are you doing now:
Working on Programs funded by OSD and U.S. Department of State. Program support for U.S. European Command and Africa Command.
Other Comments:
Not Specified

 Remembrance Profiles - 1 Marine Remembered
  • PACE, Peter, Gen, (1964-2007)
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  1980-1981, 8511, Drill Instructors School, MCRD PI, SC

From Month/Year
March / 1980
To Month/Year
February / 1981
Drill Instructors School, MCRD PI, SC Unit Page
Gunnery Sergeant
8511-Drill Instructor
Parris Island
South Carolina
 Drill Instructors School, MCRD PI, SC Details

Drill Instructors School, MCRD PI, SC
Drill Instructor School is tasked with training the Marines that make Marines.

The mission of Drill Instructor School is to further develop the leadership, command presence, instructional ability, knowledge and physical condition of selected staff noncommissioned and noncommissioned officers to successfully perform the duties of a drill instructor.

The school not only prepares Marines for an arduous tour as a Marine Corps drill instructor, but it additionally hones their skills as professional warriors. The school takes great pride in the fact that our graduates will not only shape the future of the Marine Corps as they train future Marines, but when they return to the operating forces, they will be the Marines who will lead future efforts for our Corps. 

Drill Instructor School was formally established in October 1952 and over the years has increased its length from four weeks to the current 11 weeks. Although the course length has changed, the mission of the school has remained constant.

The focus of the instruction and training established in the course syllabus of the 1950s and 1960s is very similar to the program of instruction the school uses today. Emphasis is placed on standard operating procedures for recruit training, drill, physical fitness, general military subjects and instructional techniques. Overall, leadership is the cornerstone of the course. Ensuring each student has a sound foundation of the basic leadership traits and principles coupled with solid command presence will allow them to set the proper example for their recruits. 

Nine drill instructors, each a gunnery sergeant or staff sergeant, serve as squad instructors. These Marines have completed at least one tour as a drill instructor and each has been hand-picked to train and mentor the Corps' future drill instructors. In addition to serving as an instructor and subject-matter expert for a particular subject area, they are also assigned a squad of eight to 10 students, which they lead, mentor and counsel throughout the 11-week training cycle.

The director of Drill Instructor School is a major. The assistant director is a captain with experience in a recruit training company and serves as the primary instructor for the Series Commander Course.

The first sergeant for Drill Instructor School is a former drill instructor who uses his extensive experience to supervise and mentor the staff and fulfill the duties as the senior enlisted advisor at the school.



    The introduction of the pre-World War II campaign or field hat worn by Drill Instructors today originated during an advisory council meeting in 1956. Senior Noncommissioned Officers strongly recommended the adoption of better "headgear" for DIs.

    At that time, the khaki barracks cap had a bill, but didn't shade the eyes. The soft khaki garrison cap didn't have a bill, and the green herringbone cape worn with the field uniform was also inadequate in the summer sun. The pith helmet was a practical alternative for wear in the hot Carolina summer. It was cool and its wide brim provided good shade for the eyes and neck. It later became the hat used by marksmanship instructors at the rifle range.

    Further study indicated that the field hat was the item most preferred by DIs. It shaded the neck and eyes well, but did not keep the head as cool as the pith helmet. The field hat was a bit of tradition going back to the "Old Corps" or pre-World War II days. It also was more suitable for year-round wear than the pith helmet. By early June 1956, the Depot had requisitioned 1,000 field hats for delivery on Sept. 1, 1956, but General Wallace M. Greene Jr., wanted to order 700 hats immediately. On Saturday, July 21, 1956 at 7:30 a.m. all 603 drill instructors of the recruit training command obtained their new hats.


    The Commandant of the Marine Corps announced on Sept. 13, 1996, that all female Drill Instructors were authorized to wear the previously male-only "Smokey" field hat. The commandant's decision has answered the frequently asked question, "Why not?" It was first asked in 1976 when the first females graduated from DI School and again in 1983 when female DIs began wearing the scarlet shoulder cord. During their Sept. 26, 1996 graduation ceremony, female DI School graduates were issued field hats. A cord retirement ceremony took place Oct. 2, 1996, after which female DIs ceased wearing the scarlet cord and began wearing the cover. The commandant, General Charles C. Krulak, was on hand for the event.

    The final scarlet shoulder cord, the previous symbol of a female DI, was placed in the Parris Island Museum. Marines that wear the field hat, the campaign cover or the "Smokey" and train Marine Corps recruits must train recruits by the Drill Instructor Creed. The Creed was written in 1956 by Drill Instructors for Drill Instructors.
Garrison - Training Commands
Parent Unit
Service and Support Schools
Created/Owned By
Not Specified

Last Updated: Dec 6, 2011
Memories For This Unit

Best Friends
Lt Bailey (BGen)
Capt Rich Mills (MajGen)
1stSgt Dan Bradley
Gy Tim Phillips
Gy Kircher
Gy Parker
Gy Ken Miller
Gy Farnham
Gy Whaley
Gy EJ Martin
Sgt Laura Blackerby

Best Moment
March 1980 sent to DI School, worked 5 Classes. Taught Leadership, PT Instructor and RecruitXevalXuation process.
2 Aug 1980 Merit Promoted to GySgt.
March 1981 reasigned as the Regimental Drill Master until July 1982.
Worked "5" DI School Classes
3-80, 4-80, 5-80, 1-81, & 2-81.
Selected to serve as the 1st Regimental Drill Master for RTR.


Worst Moment
Drill Instructor School burned down. Witnessed my office go up in flames.

Chain of Command
Director Major Wells
Deputy Director Capt Jim Crites
CDI MSgt Jones
MGySgt George Starega


Other Memories
MGySgt Smedley "A" Co CDI
1stSgt Dave Robles

My Photos For This Unit
No Available Photos
38 Members Also There at Same Time
Drill Instructors School, MCRD PI, SC

Alexander, Barry, MSgt, (1965-1989) 8511 Gunnery Sergeant
Brown, Craig, CWO3, (1970-1991) 8511 Gunnery Sergeant
Madden, Tom, MSgt, (1966-1988) 8511 Gunnery Sergeant
Paul, Carlos, SgtMaj, (1969-1989) 8511 Gunnery Sergeant
Fry, Michael, CWO3, (1974-1995) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Hayden, George, MSgt, (1968-1989) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Hunt, Steven, MSgt, (1974-1995) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Kalnas, Michael, CWO3, (1970-1992) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Miller, Eric, SgtMaj, (1975-2000) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Phillips, David, SgtMaj, (1978-2001) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Powell, Charles, MGySgt, (1973-1998) 8511 Staff Sergeant
Aslagson, James, MSgt, (1975-1997) 8511 Sergeant
Biesman, Randall, GySgt, (1974-1994) 8511 Sergeant
Cassidy, John, MSgt, (1972-1993) 8511 Sergeant
Coffman, Jeff, GySgt, (1976-1996) 8511 Sergeant
Conard, Charles, GySgt, (1975-1995) 8511 Sergeant
Consoli, John, Sgt, (1979-1982) 8511 Sergeant
Cote, Rene, CWO4, (1977-2016) 8511 Sergeant
Driggs, Dagoberto, Sgt, (1977-1980) 8511 Sergeant
Elium, Kenneth, SgtMaj, (1977-2007) 8511 Sergeant
Erhardt, Henry, SSgt, (1976-1988) 8511 Sergeant
Hornbeck, James, MSgt, (1976-2000) 8511 Sergeant
McGrattan, Kevin, SSgt, (1975-1983) 8511 Sergeant
Miller, Eric, SgtMaj, (1975-2000) 8511 Sergeant
Moore, Brenda, MSgt, (1977-1997) 8511 Sergeant
Norat, Bill, MSgt, (1976-1997) 8511 Sergeant
Sherman, Tom, SSgt, (1977-1987) 8511 Sergeant
Snow, Brian, 1stSgt, (1977-1998) 8511 Sergeant
Manhardt, Michael, GySgt, (1978-1998) 8511 Corporal
Tovar, Viola, MSgt, (1976-2001) 8511 Corporal
Ainsworth, Gary, SSgt, (1976-1988) 0 8511 Sergeant
Brito, Steve 0911 Sergeant
Lennon, Mike, Maj, (1978-1998) Sergeant
Cline, F. Michael, SgtMaj, (1974-2004) 11 1121 Staff Sergeant
Northcott, Jr., John, MGySgt, (1972-2002) 61 6114 Staff Sergeant
Spalti, Russell, GySgt, (1975-1994) 63 6353 Staff Sergeant
Arnold, Rick, Sgt, (1973-1980) 46 4631 Sergeant
Collins, Ronald, Sgt, (1975-1987) 58 5831 Sergeant
Marrs, James, MSgt, (1974-1994) 3 0311 Sergeant

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