MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS COMMAND, GA --
Federal Service to the United States Marine Corps, whether in a civilian capacity or uniform, is an extraordinary privilege that few have the honor of experiencing.
Today, at his virtual retirement ceremony following 31 years of service, Mr. Trent Blalock, Deputy Commander, Marine Depot Maintenance Command (MDMC), reflects on his distinguished career milestone.
Because of COVID-19, Mr. Blalock's retirement ceremony was limited to a 10 person maximum. Those in attendance today included Trent's family, Colonel Wilfred Rivera, Commander, MDMC, and Major General Joseph Shrader, Commanding General, Marine Corps Logistics Command (LOGCOM). The ceremony was also broadcast live via LOGCOM’s official Facebook page @ facebook.com/MARCORLOGCOM
Blalock, who began his federal career in 1989 as the Supervisor of the Marine Corps Industrial Fund Accounting section, Marine Corps Logistics Base, Albany later transferred to what was then Maintenance Center Albany in 1992 where he would serve the remaining 28yrs of his career, 19 of which he would be the Deputy, one of the highest-profile senior positions of the LOGCOM Enterprise held for the longest appointment of any leader in the past 30 years.
During his tenure, Blalock’s leadership of more than 2700 employees and deliberate innovative management of the multi-commodity depot business generating over $500M in annual revenue through the repair, rebuild, and overhaul of Marine Corps Ground combat and support equipment directly resulted in MDMC being recognized by the Department of Defense as a world-class depot repair capability and 5-time recipient of the renowned Robert T. Mason Award for depot maintenance excellence.
When asked what he considered to be the most rewarding part of his career, he responded, “In short, the past 19 years as the Deputy Commander. I’ve often said that I have the best job across the LOGCOM Enterprise and I truly mean that. It is very rewarding to see what we do to get weapon systems back in the hands of young Marines - and the workforce here at MDMC - who I’ll miss the most, is second to none”.
Known by his subordinates for his first-name familiarity with the many artisans on the deckplates and by his peers for his cool, collected demeanor under pressure, Blalock’s leadership at all levels will be missed for years to come. Former Commander, Col (Ret) Steve Foreman who hand-selected Blalock as his deputy in 2001, stated “I couldn’t have picked a better guy” and reminisced on Blalock’s motto: “Don’t be afraid to be great”.
Mr. Blalock has also been known to state often that, “Every decision is a business decision”. Regarding the accountability of manpower management, he offers “whether we are hiring someone, moving someone where they can better contribute to the mission or firing someone, all these decisions play a vital role in how we manage the workforce to uphold a standard of excellence.”
The lasting legacy of a good leader is what remains behind once they have departed. Blalock’s intrusive leadership style and desire to smartly grow people and the business is evident in the more than 700 professionals who have been recruited through the Co-Op/Pathways program under his charge over the past 15yrs. “People may doubt what you say, but they will believe what you do”, said Rivera during the ceremony as one of his favorite Blalock quotes. Perhaps his greatest legacy – left behind - will be the workforce itself. Many of the aforementioned personnel cultivated under his leadership have already grown and continue to grow into the future leaders of MDMC and the greater LOGCOM enterprise.
Blalock’s business acumen regarding MDMC, the only organic depot capability within the Marine Corps, and fiscal management of the world-wide operations are perhaps one of the most coveted aspects of his role as Deputy to his previous Commanders. Echoed by Cols (Ret) Pete Underwood, Kevin McCutcheon, Dan Gillan, Terry Reid, Steve Medeiros, & Eric Livingston, it is expressed that Blalock became both a trusted advisor and eventually a friend to them. “His understanding of and skill in managing the fiscal process was especially effective,” said Underwood. “He put everyone and everything ahead of himself,” said McCutcheon.
Among the notable accomplishments of Blalock’s leadership at the Depot was the flawless execution of surge requirements during the height of the Global War on Terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Depot’s ability to turn on a dime and adapt to meet Force requirements saved countless lives through concept development, design, fabrication, and fielding of armor plate kits, mobile trauma bays, IED mine rollers, and MRAP vehicles. Put simply by Col (Ret) Dan Gillan, “he was the right guy, at the right time and place to get us through those times.” “Always the voice of reason, doing everything in his power to keep the well-oiled machine of the Depot on track,” said Reid.
There were many trying times for the Depot over the years, and the future will be no different. Regarding the transition of Maintenance Centers Albany and Barstow to what is now known as Marine Depot Maintenance Command, Col (Ret) Steve Medeiros commented, “Through turbulent yet exciting times….through it all, I could always rely on Trent as my advisor and rudder to help steer the organization to success”….“calm and collected under the most extreme pressure,” said Livingston.
Sincerely speaking, Mr. Blalock shared with his mentors who shaped and guided him over the years: “Thank YOU for coaching and mentoring me even when you didn’t know you were.”
To the up and comers as a strategy for success: “Keep your options open; learn all you can about the LOGCOM mission and don’t limit yourself to only one aspect/function. The more you learn, the more marketable you will become, and the more valuable you will be to the Command and Marine Corps.”
Finally, to his workforce: “Continue to take care of each other. It is unique that a workforce this large has a special connection seen here at the shop/office level. You do an outstanding job of looking after each other, especially in times of need. Never take that for granted. Keep that tradition going – it is up to the next generation to do that. Life is short. Live it well. Be ready!”
In final words from MajGen Shrader, “Character and Integrity are what come to mind when I think of Trent. Throughout my career, I’ve run into people who bring out the best in others and everything they do. These are especially important qualities of a leader and represented strongly by Trent Blalock”.
Sir, LOGCOM can’t thank you enough for your lasting impact on this command, her people, and your faithful service to our Corps!
Semper Fi and Fair Winds!