OCEANSIDE, Calif. -- “I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.” - Leonardo Da Vinci
Every quarter, the select few Marines who manage to tap in to their absolute potential usually end up on a pedestal. Every year, for fewer still, that pedestal is raised a little higher.
Such is the case with 2012 Marine Corps Installation-West Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year award recipient Sgt. Maxmillion Page, the Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron S-1 non-commissioned officer-in-charge and native of Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“I had no clue about it, I was shocked. My sergeant major, who used to be a drill instructor, calls me into his office,” said Page. “I’m wondering what’s going on and he tells me I won the MCI-West NCO of the Year award. I didn’t even know I was nominated, so I was surprised.”
Born in Hong Kong, young Page was the middle child in a family of four. His father was a former Air Force captain working at the embassy as a U.S. consulate liaison while his mother headed up a logistics firm. Having hard working parents and being raised in Hong Kong made for a unique perspective of the world.
“There’s a lot of crowds in Hong Kong. It’s very urban and modernized,” said Page. “Living in California was much more open compared to the big city of Hong Kong. A lot more space, much less condensed.”
When Page was 12-years-old, his family made their way to America and settled in Thousand Oaks, Calif. There, the family gained an appreciation for the outdoors with camping and hunting trips. For Page, the quiet suburban Southern California community was a welcome contrast to the bustling, busy city of Hong Kong.
“We’d always go to the States for the big holidays, so it wasn’t a total culture shock,” said Page. “But it was definitely a lot different.”
While back in the states, at the young age of 14, Page lost his father to cancer. Soon after, he enrolled at Unity Christian High School, a boarding school in Illinois. There, a normally B average student, Page found the focus to excel at his studies and athletics; including football, basketball and swimming.
By his senior year, Page lived in an apartment with friends and gained more independence. He eventually applied to and was accepted into the University of Southern California and the University of Illinois. Fortunately for the Marine Corps, at a friend’s Reserve Officers’ Training Corps function, a casual conversation with a recruiter kindled the interest and direction Page decided to take.
“I didn’t want my mom to pay for my college. I kinda wanted to put myself through college and the Marine Corps allowed me to do that,” said Page. “It was a principle I had to take care of myself.”
The training matrix poster at his recruiting station was the closest idea of boot camp that Page had in mind. An independent and self-reliant attitude made his transition through the recruit depot as smooth as it could be.
“I like going in blind and not knowing what I’m going to be in for,” said Page. “I came in open contract.”
Having earned the title, Page graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif., in January 2009. His subsequent training took place at Personal Administration School in Camp Johnson, N.C., which lead to his first duty station in Yuma.
“I’ve know Sgt. Page since March 2012,” said SSgt. Wandy Rodriguezabreu, a Marine Wing Support Squadron 311 administrations chief and a native of Worcester, Mass. “When I first took over as H&HS S-1, he was a lance corporal. Like any other lance corporal he needed some work, but his willingness to work set him apart.”
Starting out with basic accountability at S-1, Page was quickly entrusted with the responsibility of a legal clerk and subsequently became the legal chief for H&HS. After being promoted to corporal, Page became the Single Marine Program’s president in January 2012.
Eventually, handling the workload and tasks assigned to him with the utmost proficiency, had Page earning a Navy Achievement Medal.
In August of last year, Page earned the Marine Corps Installations-West non-commissioned officer of the quarter award; all the while climbing the ladder and attaining the rank of sergeant.
“His best qualities, I would say, is always trying to better himself,” said Rodriguezabreu. “’Know yourself and always seek self-improvement.’ That’s the best way I could describe Sgt. Page.”
The 24-year old sergeant has a black belt in his Marine Corps Martial Arts Program training to go along with his first class CFT and PFT scores. The range has Page qualified as expert on both pistol and rifle.
Always leading by example and influencing the Marines around him, Page is quick to pass on the knowledge he’s gained over the years.
“He’s the person I look up to the most,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan Yepez, an H&HS administration clerk and a native of Dallas. “He knows his job very well. If you ask him something, if you have a question, he’s not the type of NCO to not know - He’ll have answers.”
Page does not believe his rank is a reason to sit out of hard work. In his eyes, confidence and initiative are the true factors that make up a solid leader.
“Lead by example, definitely. I don’t think a leader should tell a Marine to do something if they’re not going to be next to that Marine working,” said Page. “Just because you hold a rank doesn’t give them the privilege to just watch while they field day or not showing up to work at a certain time. If you’re going to have Marines come in at 0600, you need to already be there at 0600.”
Not one to settle, Page preaches the importance of a college education. In March, Page expects to have earned a bachelor’s degree in science while eyeing a major in criminal justice from Northern Arizona University.
Next up for Page will be a lateral move into the 0321 field as a reconnaissance man. A stint through the School of Infantry and, hopefully, a successful completion of the Basic Reconnaissance Course will allow him to check another box in his list of goals.
“The BRC is a challenge, something I want to accomplish. Right now I’m in the best physical shape of my life and I don’t want to be left wondering ‘what if’” said Page. “I’ll be going out in March.”
Drive, determination and a competitive spirit has been ingrained in Page. The same need to stand on his own two feet from an early age is a feeling many in the Corps can identify with. Award or not, the message behind one Marines accomplishment is clear: tapping into our ambition and getting the most out of our potential should always be the ultimate goal.