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The U.S. Embassy Bogota Marine Security Guard Detachmentpose after the lance corporals’course graduation and detachment awards ceremony at the embassy, Bogota, Colombia, February 28, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)

A testament of an individual’s leadership abilities often lies in how he/she responds during times of uncertainty or adversity. Even if we cannot change the situation itself, true leaders always recognize that we can change how we look at a situation, and,most importantly, how we respond to it.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has certainly created an uncertain environment. As the past four months have shown us, the coronavirus is not just a global health crisis. It continues to impact virtually every aspect of U.S. Embassy Bogota’s operations and will do so for the foreseeable future. Rather than focusing on the hardships COVID-19 has caused, the embassy’s Marine Security Guard (MSG) detachment, under the leadership of Detachment Commander GySgt “Gunny” Daniel Best, demonstrated to Mission Colombia how to lead in uncertain times. Gunny Best saw this period as an opportunity to bind his team together, hone their skills, and reinforce the goals they established as a detachment.

Since March of 2020, MSG Detachment Bogota has received a virtually unheard of amount of accolades. To earn these various distinctions during a “normal year” is impressive enough. To do so during COVID is nothing short of exceptional. Those awards include:

  • Three separate meritorious promotions;
  • Two-time (Jan-Mar and Apr-Jun) Region’s Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO) of the Quarter;
  • Region’s Top Junior Marine of the Quarter (Apr-Jun);
  • MCESG’s top rated junior Marine during meritorious promotion board (Oct-Apr);
  • Region’s Top MSG of the Year2020;
  • Region’s MSG Iron Detachment of the Year for highest physical fitness;
  • Winner of the 2020 Leatherneck writing competition for an article about the MSG actions during the evacuation of U.S. Embassy Caracas. (jointly authored by GySgt Best & LCpl Blisset) ;and
  • Presidential Community Fitness Award winner.

As if multiple awards were not enough, the MSGs sought ways to support the community. They agreed to work with the embassy’s public affairs section to create a series of videos demonstrating physical fitness programs that people could do during the quarantine. The video series has been a viral success, with over 8.8 million people watching the videos so far.

As management expert and author Tom Peters once stated, “Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.” It has been impressive to see firsthand how Gunny Best continues to communicate, lead, manage, and inspire his team during these turbulent times, which in turn, has created an entire team of leaders. The MSG Detachment in Bogota has developed a winning formula which has proven successful even in a time of COVID. They stand as a testament of leadership for the rest of us to follow. Well done, Marines!!

L to R: SSgt Devin Valleroy, Senior Regional Security Officer Luis Matus, SSgt Dwight Patterson, Embassy Bogota Ambassador Philip Goldberg, and Cpl Chet Rich, Jr., at a meritorious ceremony at Embassy Bogota, Colombia, June 2, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)
Marine Corps Sgt Christopher Jarrett (left) receives an award from Maj. Ismael Lopez and GySgt Daniel Best at Embassy Bogota, Colombia, Feb. 28, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)
The MSG Detachmentposes for a photo after three Marine Security Guards receive their meritorious promotions, Embassy Bogota, June 2, 2020. (U.S. Department of State photo)



U.S. Department of State

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