Assignment: Command services and military justice chief, Office of Staff Judge Advocate, Camp Pendleton, Calif., and Marine Corps Installations-West.
The 25-year-old from Lakeland, Fla., is married, and his first son, Joseph, was born in May.
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Staff Sgt. David E. Vogt, a 25-year-old legal services chief, is an eternal optimist and a “living moral compass” for his fellow Marines, choosing to focus on the possibilities of what he and others can do to better the world around them.
He demonstrates this by giving up his free time to volunteer with local organizations and by inspiring Marines as well as disadvantaged teenagers and school kids.
“Never lose the possibilities of the day,” he said.
With his penchant for volunteering and mentoring others, Vogt has been selected as the 2010 Marine Corps Times Marine of the Year.
Just last year alone, Vogt spent nearly 500 hours volunteering with local and base groups.
He has volunteered at the Camp Pendleton base animal shelter. He’s read stories to school children and organized activities for elementary students at one of the base schools. He’s raised money in donations for a local homeless shelter and served meals for local senior citizens. Even after finishing his bachelor’s degree and chipping away toward a master’s degree, he continues to tutor Marines in college English and math.
In his six years in uniform, Vogt has been meritoriously promoted in rank four times. On April 2, he pinned on the first rocker of a staff sergeant.
Vogt is a consummate NCO and, according to superiors, a leader at heart. Tapped as a master trainer, he guided 1,350 Marines through the new NCO Suicide Prevention Program. He is also credited with directly helping to steer a troubled Marine away from possible suicide.
His command has taken note of all of Vogt’s efforts, this spring nominating the then-sergeant for Marine of the Year.
Vogt “is a living example of ‘duty, honor, country,’” wrote his supervisor, Lt. Col. Kent J. Keith. “He is truly dedicated to the Marine Corps and individual Marines. Although a perfect candidate for one of the Marine Corps commissioning programs … Vogt has elected to remain in the enlisted ranks for the sole purpose of being closer to Marines, allowing him the ‘hands-on’ ability to lead and mentor junior Marines.”
The command credits Vogt with inspiring other Marines to enroll for college classes and Marine Corps Institute courses.
“His honor is without question, and he is a living moral compass for all the officers and enlisted within the battalion,” Keith added.
Joining in the nomination was the battalion commander, Col. Philippe Rogers, who trusted Vogt enough to pick then-Sgt. Vogt to run the 1,700-member battalion as part of “NCOs Run the Battalion Week.”
“[Vogt] is the best NCO of Marines I have seen in over 23 years of service,” said Rogers, who noted he had ranked him the top sergeant among more than 150 sergeants in the battalion. “This is the consummate professional and Marine NCO — there [is] none better.”
It’s not uncommon for Vogt to dole out advice to younger Marines.
“A support net is not made with one rope,” he notes. “As a staff sergeant, I can use that to inspire younger Marines to do the same.”
“You get what you give, and you learn from the people you meet,” Vogt said. “You’ve got to get out of the box … even if it’s someone at the soup kitchen who has nothing other than a bowl. They can still teach you.”
Last summer, guided by his battalion commander, Vogt helped organize the unit’s NCO Association. He wrote its constitution, which, he said, reminds NCOs “to lead and inspire Marines to realize there is no limitation on what an NCO is capable of in their position and influence,” whether on junior Marines or superiors. The association was the first of its kind at Camp Pendleton — two others are now active.
The fledgling group elected him its first president. These days, Vogt serves as mentor to its more than 250 members. Last year, Vogt led the NCOs in organizing the annual Marine Corps Birthday Ball.
“We took it; we made it our own,” Vogt said. More than 1,000 people — officers and enlisted Marines plus families and friends — partied at the U.S. Grant Hotel in downtown San Diego. The event raised $20,000.
“It demonstrates there is no limit to what a sergeant, or a corporal, can do, especially when they team it up together and do it as a group,” Vogt said.
This past spring, he received the 2009 Defense Department National Image Meritorious Service Award, an honor given to the top enlisted Marine for community service work. Last year, he was named as Camp Pendleton’s Noncommissioned Officer of the Year, honoring his “superior volunteerism” and work with the Camp Pendleton Rotary Club.
After nearly three years working at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., Vogt spent about four months in Tampa, Fla., on special temporary assignment with Marine Corps Forces-Central Command. Then came orders to Camp Pendleton, and he ramped up his volunteer projects.
Vogt’s focus is now shifting as he prepares to deploy to Afghanistan as an individual augmentee, heading to the war zone with a I Marine Expeditionary Force legal team. It will be his first time in the combat zone.
Though trained to be a warrior, SSgt David Vogt’s compassion and desire to help others is perhaps his greatest strength. Certified as one of 18 Master Trainers for the entire Marine Corps, Vogt was instrumental in rolling out the new NCO Suicide Prevention Program. He volunteered for this extra duty and made it his personal goal to help as many people and impact as many lives as possible.
“Saving the lives of other Marines in distress is the greatest gift any person can give our Corps and our Country,” says Vogt’s supervisor. “And I truly believe his dedication to this program saved lives everyday.”
Vogt seems to excel at every task, setting the mark for others to emulate. Commenting on the occasions Vogt had to step up to fill her billet, his supervisor said, “a Staff Sergeant that can fill a billet three ranks his senior is a Marine that can achieve anything.” An insightful comment, as Vogt recently received the highest performance rating a Marine can achieve, one that his commanding officer had never awarded.
As the Inaugural President of his battalion’s Noncommissioned Officers Association chapter, Vogt built the organization from the ground up and into an organization that touched thousands of other Marines and civilians in the community. His leadership has lead the battalion to being selected as Camp Pendleton’s Volunteer Unit of the Year for the past two years.
Meritoriously promoted three times, Vogt’s primary assigned duty is as Command Services/Military Justice Chief for the Office of Staff Judge Advocate for the largest and busiest legal office in the Marine Corps. This past year alone, Vogt has won the DoD National Image Meritorious Service Award for Enlisted Marine, and the Camp Pendleton Base Noncommissioned Officer of the Year and Volunteer of the Year awards. Vogt volunteers his time with local elementary schools, organizing storybook readings. This past year he led a Military Appreciation Day for 500 students in the Fallbrook Union School District, giving the children an opportunity to experience and understand what their parents do in the military, and help them cope their parents’ deployment.
Vogt also spends time with young adults, working with Solutions Incorporated in San Diego to mentor students approaching graduation who lack the resources or support for advancing onto college or in the business world. His service there earned him the Fallbrook Cornucopia Award.
Adding to his seemingly endless list of charitable acts, on weekends Vogt volunteers at the Camp Pendleton Animal Shelter. He also organized and directed a blood drive with the Armed Services Blood Program and works with a senior citizen social network called Life After Fifty. Other organizations he donates time to include the Camp Pendleton Rotary Club, the Bread for Life Rescue Mission and the local chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. Vogt even found time to organize the Headquarters and Support Battalion Birthday Ball.
“The most notable and important element of everything I have worked to be a part of, is the role I have leading the Marines around me,” Vogt says. “Inspiring them to volunteer time for others and to develop themselves individually through education and their careers.”
SSgt David Vogt lives in Oceanside, Calif., with his wife, Alicia, and their newborn son, Joseph. He is scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan later this year with a four-person Staff Judge Advocate team.
“Although a perfect candidate for one of the Marine Corps commissioning programs, Staff Sgt. Vogt has elected to remain in the enlisted ranks for the sole purpose of being able to lead and mentor junior Marines. His honor is without question.” Supervisor