By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso
Special to American Forces Press Service
Sept. 2, 2009 - When Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Traci Inniss enlisted in 1995, she followed in the footsteps of her military family members, even choosing to become a corpsman at the influence of her brother and sister, who had joined the Marine Corps. But Inniss, a team leader with Marine Aircraft Group 40's casualty evacuation team in Marine Expeditionary Brigade Afghanistan, quickly laid her own path, according to those who serve with her, proving her leadership of junior sailors and an adaptability for various deployments and situations.
"Her ability to adapt to a completely different kind of mission is impressive," said Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brandon Arnold, a corpsman who serves on Inniss' team in Afghanistan and previously deployed with her to Iraq. "Her leadership style makes us strong and is the reason why we are as tight as we are."
It was because of her leadership and adaptability that Inniss recently became the brigade's first Sailor of the Quarter, a recognition program created to acknowledge sailors who lead by example, accept responsibility and adapt to and overcome any hardship.
"I think my willingness to do anything, to take on any challenge, is the reason why I was recognized," Inniss said.
A native of Lyndon, Ill., Inniss joined the Navy in February 1995, influenced by her family's military service. In 2008, she deployed for eight months to Asad, Iraq, and now faces new challenges and different missions in Afghanistan.
Focusing on her junior sailors has been a key attribute to Inniss' leadership style for the past 14 years.
"You have to listen to your junior troops and know who they are," she said. "My junior troops always come before me," she said, adding that she helps them to grow and advance in their careers by teaching them things they need to learn.
"She puts her sailors before herself, which is evident by the success of her junior sailors, who are 100 percent [Fleet Marine Force] qualified and their 100 percent advancement to [petty officer 3rd Class]," said Petty Officer 1st Class Craig Pasanen, leading petty officer for the casualty evacuation corpsmen.
Although the end of her deployment is far beyond the horizon, Inniss has no plans to stop leading her corpsmen to excel. Once her deployment ends, she said, she plans to do what she loves most: spending time with her two children, Wynter and Aydan. Until then, her fellow sailors will continue to look to her for the leadership she has become known for.
"She takes charge, delegates fairly and is not afraid of responsibility," Arnold said. "She's always willing to get her hands dirty to help get whatever task that needs to be done, done."
(Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso serves in the Marine Aircraft Group 40 public affairs office.)