Home Lifestyle BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Ellerbe’s Dervin pursues Marine Corps career

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: Ellerbe’s Dervin pursues Marine Corps career

Deryck Dervin, from Ellerbe, served 30 years in the U.S. Marine Corps
Contributed photo

Today we highlight another former Ellerbe Wildcat and Richmond Senior High School Class of 1988 graduate, Marine veteran Deryck Dervin. 

Growing up with his grandparents, Mrs. Esther and Doctor McLean, many of the men in his family were in the Army, including his uncle Thomas Harold McLean, also of Ellerbe, and he often saw soldiers patrolling the woods near his home. The impression these experiences made, coupled with his drive to succeed in challenging circumstances, but also be different, led Dervin to pursue a career in the United States Marine Corps. 

After graduating from RSHS, Dervin enlisted in the Marine Corps and completed basic training in Parris Island, South Carolina, on Feb. 1, 1989. His first assignment as a radio operator was in Okinawa, Japan. 

His drive to do more persisted and he volunteered to serve in the 1st Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO) at Camp Pendleton, California. Dervin reported to the unit in July of 1990 and departed for his first deployment of Desert Storm/Shield in October of 1990 at the age of 20. 

After successfully serving in this mission, Dervin was still yearning to, again, do more. He volunteered for another unit, 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company at Camp LeJune, from 1993-2004, during which time deployed to Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. In 2004, his service was recognized with the Force Reconnaissance Team Leader of the Year. 

Upon completing this tour, Dervin was assigned as the senior enlisted for a branch of a training group in Okinawa, Japan, to teach close quarters battle, reconnaissance and surveillance skills, in addition to explosive breaching techniques. After two years of leadership in this assignment, he returned to the reconnaissance field with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion Camp Pendleton in 2007. 

Soon after, Dervin was selected to join a new unit with the Marine Corps, the Marine Special Operations Command (MARSOC), which he served in for five years before being named the senior enlisted for Marine Raider Training Center. The Center, a schoolhouse charged with the assessment and selection of future Marines, along with providing advanced courses for combat deployments and learning various languages. 

His next role came two years later when he was named the operations chief/senior enlisted for the Marine Raider Regiment, which he served in for two years before completing his career at the Marine Raider Support Group.

During his 30 years of service, he achieved the rank of master gunnery sergeant and was one of two black master gunnery sergeants in the history of reconnaissance units and the first in MARSOC. 


He completed numerous courses. Some of the most notable include: 

  • Jungle Survival in the Philippines
  • Basic Airborne School
  • Marine Combatant Dive School, 
  • Military Free Fall School at Fort Bragg 
  • Airborne Jump Master 
  • Military Free Fall Jump Master 
  • Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) School, Fort Bragg 

In his career, he was deployed more than 14 times to multiple countries across the world, many of which were combat deployments, such as those in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq and Africa. 

He received multiple awards, such as: 

  • Legion of Merit
  • Meritorious Service x2
  • Bronze Star w/Valor device
  • Navy and Marine Corps medal w/Valor Device 
  • Combat deployment ribbon with two Gold Stars 

Although he currently resides in St. Augustine, Florida, Dervin will always consider Ellerbe his home. When his grandmother who raised him passed, his childhood buddies — including recent feature Ronald “Kenny” Durham, Doug McFayden, and Jeff Dockery  who are more like family than friends served as pallbearers. 

In addition to bringing attention to the amazing career of service from this Ellerbe native today, we ask that you keep his family in your thoughts and prayers for his uncle, Thomas Harold McLean, who is sick. McLean, an Army veteran, was one of his inspirations to join the military. He attended Dervin’s graduation from Basic Airborne School and pinned his first set of jump wings on him. 

Join us today in celebrating Master Gunnery Sgt. Deryck Dervin’s dedication to our country, representing the Ellerbe community in the most honorable fashion, and being such a commendable force of Black History in Richmond County!

Meghann Lambeth is executive director of the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority.

(Editor’s Note: Visit Richmond County is highlighting prominent local African Americans each day in February in honor of Black History Month. Previous individuals featured include late Richmond County sheriff James E. Clemmons Jr., late state representative Harrison Ingram Quick, dancer and makeup artist Ciarra Kelley, Ellerbe Mayor Brenda Capel, two-time Super Bowl champion Perry Williams, Bishop Arlester Simpson of Ellerbe, Richmond County School Board member Ronald Tillman, and educator Melvin Ingram. See the Visit Richmond County Facebook page for more on these outstanding individuals.)

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