Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. -- The rank ladder in the Marine Corps is normally a linear path. Every now and then, someone mixes it up and becomes warrant officer or receives a full commission after enlisting into the service. For Capt. Justin Gibson, maintenance operations officer with Production Plant Barstow, Marine Depot Maintenance Command on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, the rank system included all three paths, as he was promoted to his current rank from chief warrant officer two. From the start, Gibson knew he wanted to climb to the top of the ranks.
"I enlisted in February 1999," said the Marlton, N.J., native. "I decided at the beginning I wanted to keep going up. I wanted to pick up more responsibility," he added. After 14 years and reaching the ranks of staff sergeant and chief warrant officer two, along with being selected for CWO3, Gibson took steps to become what is known as a limited duty officer. An LDO is an officer within the Navy or Marine Corps with extensive technical knowledge in his or her job fields and is limited to duties in that particular military occupational specialty. This means, an LDO will continue filling billets that directly support the missions of his or her specific job.
"Limited Duty Officers are like the technical experts in their fields. They don't just fall under one job anymore; their coverage is over a broader job field," explained Gibson. "Like when I was a chief warrant officer two, I specialized in tank mechanics. Now as an LDO, I deal with the whole maintenance field," he added. Gibson's decision to become commissioned was based on a combination of pursuing his goals for more responsibility, while looking toward his future.
"A lot of the time, Marines don't realize how much harder it actually is to get promoted the higher you get in rank," Gibson explained. "There are less spots available and sometimes, putting in a package for warrant officer or an LDO package is your best bet. You just need to make sure you're proficient in your job and you keep yourself competitive for promotion when you do it," he added.
Even with new rank insignia on his collar, the new captain wears the same uniform he did before. "I'm still the same Marine I was when I first came in. I just have more responsibility now," Gibson said. "I look at it as being from both [enlisted and commissioned] sides now. You can't come up to me and tell me 'you don't know what it's like' because most likely, I do," he added.
Marines who work with Gibson can attest to his attitude toward his new rank and added responsibility to the Corps. "There isn't really much of a difference from before and after he was promoted," said Master Sgt. Dale Cobin, the senior enlisted advisor at Fleet Support Division on base, who shares an office with Gibson. "He's still in the same capacity he was before. We have a respect for each other's rank. It's just . now he's a captain."
As his time on MCLB Barstow comes to an end, Gibson's career will soon takes him to Marine Detachment Fort Lee, Va., where Marines learn their trade in tactical vehicle maintenance and he'll put his knowledge of his job field to the test and help teach one of the newest generations in the Corps.