Shadle 2

By Kathryn Menue


James L. Shadle, a former resident of Belvidere and attendee of Belvidere High School, was promoted to Sergeant Major in the U.S. Marine Corps on Friday, Aug. 12 at a ceremony held at the Marine Corps Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan.

The road to a successful military career came after a tough time in Sgt. Major Shadle’s younger years.

“I dropped out of high school and struggled for three to four years before finally joining the Marine Corps,” Sgt. Major Shadle said.

After years of working his way through the ranks, Shadle attained the highest position in the Marine Corp by becoming the Senior Enlisted Advisor of a United States Marine Corps F-18 Squadron in Iwakui, Japan. The squadron Sgt. Major Shadle now leads is the Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242.

“A Sergeant Major serves as the billeted senior enlisted advisor for the Marine Corps’ largest units, including battalions and squadrons,” Shadle said. “As the senior enlisted member of their unit, Sergeant Majors serve as a bridge between the enlisted Marines and their commanders and assist in unit logistics, drilling, and disciplinary actions among their Marines. Sergeant Major is the highest enlisted rank available to noncommissioned officers following the command career path.”

Family and friends gathered around to witness Shadle’s promotion to this highly esteemed position, along with saying goodbye to the former Sgt. Major Jason L. Kappen.

According to a report by the Defense Video Imagery Distribution System (DVIDS), Lt. Col. Jabari Reneau attended the ceremony as well to welcome Shadle as the new Sgt. Major for the Marine-All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 242 in Iwakuni, Japan.

Reneau said that with “Shadle’s expertise, experience, and knowledge,” he is excited to welcome the new senior enlisted Marine to the 242 squadron.

According to the DVIDS, Sergeant Major Shadle took over the position at VMFA(AW)-242 after serving three years in Bangkok, Thailand and through out the East Asia and Pacific region, “where he served as the Region 3 First Sergeant, Marine Corps Embassy Security Group.

“The squadron has a rich aviation history, so it’s an honor to be here,” Shadle reported to DVIDS. “It’s going to be an amazing experience for me. The F/A-18 Hornets are amazing pieces of machinery, so it’s going to be an honor just to be around them.”

Shadle also reported that “he expects to gain more experience by learning from his Marines and” becoming “a more well-rounded staff noncommissioned officer.”

“Kappen left the squadron in good standing,” Shadle said. “I don’t think I’m going to have to do much. My main goal is keeping the squadron headed toward success, and they’re already on the right track. I’m going to make sure that my Marines have good morale, want to come to work, enjoy being here, and make sure that my Marines find success.”

Despite having a long military career taking him away from northern Illinois, Sgt. Major Shadle said that Belvidere will always hold a place in his heart.

“Most of my family lives in McHenry and the Rockford area, and I’ve only been home three or four times in the last 20 years, but I still call Belvidere home,” Shadle said.

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