Leadership Ideas, Information and News

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A few proud Airmen among the Few and the Proud: The Marine Corps Corporals Leadership Course at Offutt

by Senior Airman Peter R.O. Danielson
55th Wing Public Affairs


7/31/2013 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb.  -- Three Offutt Airmen stood among the "first to go" as they attended the 4th Marine Logistic Group Corporals Leadership Course here, July 13 - 27, with 31 Marines as they learned basic leadership knowledge and skills necessary to carry out their responsibilities as non-commissioned officers.

Much like the Air Force's Airman Leadership School, this two-week course is part of an enlisted Marine's professional military education.

"Our mission is to grow, develop and teach these Marines and Airmen to be the leaders," said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Alexander Lamberth, the course director from Det. 1 Maintenance Company, 4th Maintenance Battalion, in Omaha, Neb. "Leadership is leadership regardless what branch. This course was written to teach our students where they came from as Marines and where they need to take our Corps."

This emphasis on Marine culture and traditions seemed daunting to the Airmen who were coming in as outsiders.

"I was kind of concerned about coming to this class," said U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Miguel Ortiz, 55th Wing Law Center. "These Marines have taken me in and made me one of their own. They even made me a squad leader during land navigation training, which was an honor."

"It's pretty motivating to have some Air Force senior airmen in this class," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. John Patrick San Nicolas, from Ordnance Maintenance Company, 4th Maintenance Battalion, Waco, Texas. "We treat them like brothers and sisters and get to show them how the Marine Corps does it."

Throughout the 13 training days, the students are given instruction in many topics that include administration process, communication, professional ethics and combat operations.

"This course describes and hones what's needed in each rank," Lamberth said. "We don't only teach them leadership but also professionalism."

The course material is dense, but instructors and students worked through the weekends to ensure they maximize the training time.

Many of the days began at 5 a.m. with a one and a half mile formation run from the O'Malley Inn to the parade ground as a warm up to physical training. Once they arrived, they would do a combination of warm up, strength and conditioning exercises that included buddy push-ups, where each person puts their feet on the shoulders of the person behind them, fireman carries and buddy squats. PT would last anywhere from an hour and a half to two hours and ended with a one and a half mile formation run back to the O'Malley Inn. These exercises were designed to put emphasis on teamwork.

"You're looking left and right at the Marines and Airmen next to you, because there's no time to look at yourself," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Jayomie McGowan, from General Support Maintenance Company, 4th Maintenance Battalion, Rock Island Arsenal, Ill. "We're here to motivate each other."

This type of exercise was unlike any the Airmen were used to in organized workouts.

"This is some high-intensity PT," Ortiz said. "I thought I was in shape before. Though, as long as you show up and do your best, they respect you."

Even the Marines found the physical conditioning challenging, yet energizing.

"I look forward to PT every day," said U.S. Marine Corps Cpl. Andrew Dodd, Det. 1 Maintenance Company, 4th Maintenance Battalion. "Not initially when I first wake up, of course. By the end of the workout, you are proud of what you've done. I know that no-one back home could do what I've done."

After PT, students changed into utility uniforms for the day and got a hot meal from the King Dining Facility. Then, the students gathered at the James M. McCoy Airman Leadership School for their lessons.

The training days ranged from 12 to 15 hours, allowing the Airmen and Marines a lot of class time to discuss their own traditions and history. One of those traditions is the M1859 Marine NCO sword, which NCOs carry while in command of troops under arms. This weapon is the oldest in continued service still in the U.S. inventory. Students performed drill with these swords and practiced formation in preparation of doing these maneuvers in their home unit.

Ortiz said this opportunity helped him understand much more about the Marine mission and culture.

"I feel like I've learned as much from the Marine students as I've learned from the instructors," Ortiz said. "It's always good to learn what other branches have to do. It's a glimpse into their lives, because a lot of this is a refresher for them. About 95 percent of this material is new to me."

The instructors felt the same way after teaching their first joint PME.

"With the success of this course, I think this has opened opportunities for inter-service PME," said U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Pete Mireles, course assistant director from the Ordnance Maintenance Company, 4th Maintenance Battalion, Waco, Texas. "I could see the Navy and Army sending students in the future."

As the students prepare to leave, McGowan said that she was ready to return home. She also said she knew that she would take advantage of the connections she made over the course of the class.

"The Marine Corps is a small, tight-knit community, and you'll develop relationships throughout your career," McGowan said. "This class helps build those relationships so wherever you go, you've got someone there you can rely on."

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