CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. – Sergeant Maj. Juan Diaz, Sergeant Major for Combat Logistics Regiment 1, 1st Marine Logistics Group, has served in the Marine Corps for more than 30 years. Diaz, a native of Houston, talks about key moments in his career and his views on leadership in the Marine Corps.
Q: What inspired you to join the Marine Corps?
A: "When I saw that iconic Marine Corps commercial with the Marine in a perfect uniform, I realized right then and there the Marine Corps was for me. I wanted to be that Marine in a perfect, clean looking uniform. I knew that I wanted something better for myself and I knew the Marine Corps offered me a better way of life. I joined the Marine Corps as soon as I graduated high school and never looked back. Thirty years later I stand by my decision. The Marine Corps has supported me during my entire career and I cannot express my gratitude enough."
Q: Why is leadership so important at all ranks in the Marine Corps?
A: "The changes in our Corps have been great. The requirements now as opposed to what I had when I came in are much more competitive than ever before. Marine leaders are trained at a much higher level of Professional Military Education than in the past. Marines have so many more courses and opportunities available today than what I had when I joined. Yes, Marines are promoted much sooner in this generation, however, they are entrusted with more leadership and are proven to accomplish tasks on and off the battlefield, which will allow the Marine Corps to continue to win battles and prepare the Corps for any future operations where we are needed."
Q: What have you taken away from the Marine Corps?
A: "Over the past 30 years of serving, I am overwhelmed at the support the Corps has given my family and I. If there is one thing I have learned about the Corps, it is that no Marine is ever left behind or not taken care of. I have always strived to emulate my past leaders by wearing my uniform to the best of my ability every day. That uniform is what sets the Corps apart from everyone else. It is a symbol of discipline, which is why I believe that discipline is an essential cornerstone to good leadership. My leaders have taught me so much, so I can pass on what I have learned. I have always been taken care of by my leaders and I will always be in debt to the Corps."
Q: Is there anything you would do differently in your past 30 years of service?
A: "What I regret the most over my career is that I did not take full advantage of every opportunity I received. I was always focused on what I was doing today or the day after that. I took on every task in front of me to the best of my ability, however, I did not take full advantage of a lot of the opportunities that were offered. Marines need to take advantage of every opportunity they get. It may not come back around. There is no time to waste. I’m not saying don’t have a good time, but take full advantage of all of the classes and courses available at every rank. There is so much more available to Marines now. Each course a Marine completes will in turn open a new doorway, offering more opportunities.
Q: If there is one piece of advice you can give to a new Marine, given your past experience, what would it be?
A: "I still remember to this day volunteering my time for a Thanksgiving party for Marines and their families after checking in with my first unit. I got a very satisfied feeling from that. I never liked being told what to do, so I always volunteered for anything, no matter what the task, before anyone else. Volunteering and taking the initiative will get you noticed, not only by your immediate superiors but superiors from other companies as well. They will notice you doing the right things for the right reasons and that will take you far in your career. It is a single and simple way to get started on the fast track to a successful career and it is never too late to start."