The Origin of "Black 6"

Why did we name our organization "Black 6"?

The origin of the name “Black 6” dates back to our co-founder, Joseph Zoleta’s military service in the United States Marine Corps. He served with Golf Company, 2nd Battalion 5th Marines. In 2004, he deployed on his second combat tour to Iraq, where he would conduct combat operations in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, the capital of the Al Anbar Province. During this deployment, Joseph would be assigned to Headquarters Platoon and assigned to the command element, assisting the Company Commander.
“This is where I learned a lot about leadership and what being mission-oriented means”, said Joseph as he recalled his time with Headquarters Platoon. “I got to see what the command had to deal with in maneuvering a company of Marines against a hidden enemy.”

“Black 6” was the radio handle of the command element of Headquarters Platoon. The “Black” platoon consisted of Marines from different parts of the country with different skills essential to accomplishing any mission.

Headquarters Platoon would be assigned the radio handle “Black” and since Joseph was with the command element, the number '“6” is used to designate the commander in that section. Captain Kenney was Golf Company’s commander and had been training up the unit months before their deployment to Iraq but Headquarters Platoon wasn’t fully formed up prior to their deployment in late 2004.

“I was assigned to the platoon about 2 months before we deployed. I ended up going on an advanced party with our Company Gunnery Sergeant. When we got there, I learned quickly it was nothing like our first deployment. It was going to be worse.”, said Joseph. “When the rest of my company came, they moved more Marines to our platoon. We weren’t that familiar with how each other worked but we had to quickly learn. Learning and adapting was what we did in the first few weeks.”

The deployment would end up being tough as many Marines would be wounded and the battalion would lose 15 Marines. It was during these tough times that the “Black” platoon worked even harder. Captain Kenney would take the platoon on every mission even if they weren’t the main force. This lead from the front leadership mindset is the basis of The Black 6 Project’s leadership philosophy.

“Captain Kenney always wanted us right in there. If another platoon got into a firefight, we were speeding there as the Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to reinforce them. Sometimes, we were the main target of the enemy.' We hit an IED early in the morning as we were driving out of the outpost. Luckily, we just got an armored HUMVEE and absorbed most of the impact. We just jumped into another truck and continued on our mission”-Joseph

The “Black” platoon would go on to be awarded multiple Purple Hears, Bronze Stars, and Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medals. It was through the experience of war with the “Black” platoon that Joseph decided to apply those mission essential skills to humanitarian and disaster relief work.

“There’s a can-do attitude that gets embedded in you after a tough deployment like that. You can’t leave anything to chance. If there’s anything you can do to increase your chances of surviving or capturing the enemy, you do it. I carry myself with the same ethic in everyday life and what I’m trying to achieve”- Joseph