CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- Junior noncommissioned officers march by the airfield with NCO sabers at their side.
Their ceremonial strut offers a fitting metaphor, as these Marines take the necessary steps to becoming the Corps’ next leaders.
Marine Wing Support Squadron 373, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), hosted Corporals Course Class 1-06 and graduated 24 Marines December 15.
“As an instructor, it’s my job to teach the corporals how to become the best NCOs possible,” said Staff Sgt. Robert Armendariz, company gunnery sergeant of Air Field Operations Company, MWSS-373 and instructor for 1st Squad, Class 1-06. He added that the graduates now possess the tools to help them become great mentors and outstanding leaders.
The course featured two grueling weeks of close order drill, physical training and classroom material. A few Marines who participated in the course said, it was an essential step to becoming a competent NCO.
“Being a corporal is more than having (a higher rank), it’s earning the title to be a leader,” said Cpl. Benjamin M. Manibog, 19, a maintenance management clerk with MWSS-373. He added that everything he learned, from close order drill movements to the fundamentals of Marine Corps leadership, will be something he passes on to his junior Marines.
Manibog, a Los Angeles native, was the top graduate of Class 1-06.
Armendariz said the Marines marched every morning, afternoon and evening to instill discipline within the new NCOs. Whether learning leadership traits, styles and principals in the classroom or outside for drill, the Marines always worked as a team.
“(The course) is a great time to bond with other NCOs and learn from each other,” said Cpl. Christopher M. Nelson, 22, an operator with Heavy Equipment Platoon, MWSS-373 and a native of Kennewick, Wash. He said that the team mentality helped them visualize what kind of leaders they want to be.
“I remember the first day, I was thinking how hard this class was going to be,” said Cpl. Isaac Rodriquez, 30, a mechanic with Heavy Equipment Platoon and a native of San Diego. He added that memorizing all of the information, close order drill movements and formations was the most intense part.
“After all of the difficulties I have overcome, I feel like a stronger Marine and person. I could take on anything,” said Rodriquez.
“They came to learn,” said Armendariz, 36, a native of Los Angeles. “Because of that, they have become (better) NCOs. Now I feel they could take charge of everything put in front of them.”