By Lance Cpl. R.J. Driver
Sgt. Maj. Brian Taylor, recruiting station Baltimore sergeant major, could say only one thing after seeing Gunnery Sgt. Maurice Bease, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, squadron gunnery sergeant.
“I swear I thought I was looking at a ghost.”
Taylor saw a Marine he thought had been dead for the last decade.
After serving together for two years with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 225 aboard
Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., word got back to Taylor that Bease was lost during the tragic 9/11 attack at the Pentagon, where Bease was serving.
“A few weeks after the 9/11 attack, I got a call in which it was explained to me that Bease had perished in the attack on the Pentagon,” Taylor explained. “I passed on my condolences and deployed shortly after.”
Bease clarified the misunderstanding, stating, “After the attack, some friends and I went back in to rescue (those left in the building) and help whomever we could. I had a lot of blood on me and rumors spread that I was either severely injured, or dead.”
He continued to explain that for a short time after the attack, he would encounter Marines who thought the worst had happened to him, just as Taylor had heard. Because Taylor was deployed, he wasn’t in the know, and Bease understands how Taylor went so long without knowing he was alive.
“During one of my deployments to Iraq, a friend of mine was severely injured. By the time he got back to the states and news traveled back to Iraq, the word was that he was deceased,” Bease explained. “Two years later, I ran into him again while I was deployed and it was an emotional experience.”
Similar emotions were shown aboard the Air Station when Taylor said he watched in awe as he saw a matured Bease speaking to the educators from his hometown of Baltimore.
“I looked up to Taylor and his powerline shop while I was with VMFA-225,” Bease said. “To me, they were the grunts of the squadron. Working when no one else was, getting dirty and doing all the hard work. My job, aviation operations, wasn’t looked at in the same way.
“So to prove to myself and to them, I began cross training with powerline and earned a lot of respect for doing my job and learning to do theirs,” Bease added.
He said that’s when he began learning from Taylor, who ran a tight ship.
“One of the biggest things I think is important is to lead by example; [Sgt. Maj.] Taylor always did, and it is what I do everyday.” Bease said.
Bease explained that he is happy to see Taylor had earned the rank of sergeant major and he plans to make it there himself, piggybacking off some of the leadership traits Taylor gave him.
“It was good to see that he is doing well for himself and has come a long way since he was Sgt. Bease,” Taylor said. “When he was younger, he needed a little direction.”
Ten years and one revelation later, the mentorship and peace of mind has come full circle for Taylor. A mentoring Gunnery Sgt. Taylor is now a sergeant major seeing the success of a Marine he had thought he had lost long ago.