Leadership course in Iraq instills discipline, builds confidence for junior Marines

30 Jun 2006 | Sgt. Enrique S. Diaz 1st Marine Logistics Group

Young Marine leaders received a boost of confidence here while learning some tools of the trade to help them guide their subordinates.

The Marine Wing Support Squadron 374-hosted corporal's course taught 21 junior noncommissioned officers a variety of subjects to lay the foundation to take on greater responsibility in the future.

"Somebody young and strong will come along and take our place when we are gone," said Master Sgt. Michael W. Joiner, course director. "I'm trying to give them everything in my toolbox so they can pick up where I leave off."

Military academics, physical fitness, close-order drill and ceremonial sword handling were all part of the curriculum that built camaraderie and boosted self confidence whenever individuals were under the spotlight during the 12-day course, said Joiner.

"There are massive amounts of drill time because they get the most confidence when they have to perform in front of their peers," said Joiner, a 36-year-old native of Temple, Ga.

Self confidence is necessary for Marines because they have to lead and correct their own which, sometimes, is not an easy thing to do, said Sgt. John E. Witt, a class advisor for the course and 21-year-old from Hemet, Calif.

The corporals not only learned together, but did practically everything as a team while they attended the class.

"They're living together during the 12 days they are here. They sleep in a squad bay together, they eat together, and go to class together," said Sgt. Valdemar Cambunga, a class advisor.

"They're taught to be a team...they build a strong bond as NCOs and that's the way it should be," said Cambunga, a 26-year-old native of Salinas, Calif.

Some of the Marines were profoundly influenced by the course, they said.

"When I came to this course I was teetering on the line whether I should get out (of the Marine Corps) or not," said Cpl. Trevor J. Tucker, 21, from Twin Falls, Idaho. "By the third training day I decided that what I am is a Marine and I'm not going to be anything else."

Tucker was the recipient of the Gung Ho Award; he was voted as the Marine that most exemplified teamwork and motivation by his fellow classmates, which he said "meant more than if the instructors had chosen me."

Although the class removed the corporals from their units in the midst of a high operational tempo, many senior leaders still requested school seats for their Marines because they understood the importance and payoff of having their newest leaders ready for future missions, said Joiner.

The corporals course is the first step in the leadership training many of these Marines will receive if they make a career in the Corps. But even if they get out to venture in their own direction, they will have the lessons they have learned here to help them along the way.
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