MCAS Beaufort, SC, United States --
“Staff sergeant is one of the most important ranks in this institution,” says Sgt. Maj. Valdemar Cambunga, the sergeant major for Marine Air Support Squadron 1. “They are no longer a working supervisor. They are training, educating and leading those young Marines, but also they are supervising to make sure the mission is accomplished.”
A NCO is a working supervisor. They are supervising but they are out with junior Marines getting the job done. As a SNCO, they are no longer a working supervisor. They are making sure their Marines are safe and supervising the overall mission.
“Instead of it being mainly about us, it’s about the junior Marines and their progression,” Said Sgt. Jared P. Defoor, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “It’s our job to help them get to where we are.”
Cambunga is the lead instructor for this year’s Staff Sergeant Transition Seminar. The seminar was created for current and future staff non-commissioned officers to help them through the transition from non-commissioned officer to SNCO.
This seminar was created for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing in 2017 by Sgt. Maj. Howard L. Kreamer, the former sergeant major for 2nd MAW. Kreamer led the seminar in 2017 and 2018. When he was relieved in July of 2019 to report for duty as the sergeant major for Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, he passed it to Sgt. Maj. Jacob M. Reiff, the sergeant major for 2nd MAW. Cambunga then volunteered to be the lead instructor for this year’s seminar.
This year there are four instructors in total. The instructors rank from staff sergeant to sergeant major and are from different job fields to give the students multiple perspectives and experiences to learn from.
The instructors volunteer to be a part of the seminar and are then chosen by Reiff and Cambunga based on their Marine Corps background, personality, and experience teaching Marines.
The seminar teaches the students the basics of SNCO/officer relationships, interpersonal relationships, force preservation, and SNCO leadership and mentorship through classes and group discussions. “The classes are meant to build that foundation for young SNCO’s to be successful,” Cambunga said.
“It’s very rewarding for me to see the Marines who come into the class thinking it’s just a check in the box and leaving after 2 days of classes and saying they’ve learned so much that’s going to help them be successful,” Cambunga expressed. “I really look forward to this time of year that we get to travel to [Marine Corps Air Station] Beaufort, Cherry Point, and New River to teach these classes.”