Deployed Airmen participate in USMC Corporals Course

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Allison Payne
  • 406th Air Expeditionary Wing

For the first time at Camp Lemonnier, U.S. Air Force senior airmen assigned to the 449th Air Expeditionary Group recently participated in the U.S. Marine Corps’ Corporals Course, run by the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 Reinforced, or VMM-261, Jan. 8-26, 2024.

Similar to Airman Leadership School, a Professional Military Education (PME) program unique to the Air Force, the U.S. Marine Corps’ Corporals Course is designed to provide mentorship and expand the professional and personal knowledge of newly promoted noncommissioned officers.

Participating in joint operations and training, such as the Corporal’s Course, provides the opportunity to cultivate key relationships with sister services, while continuing to build a stronger joint force.

“The purpose of the course is to train recently promoted corporals on how to conduct themselves at their new rank,” said Marine Sgt. Richard Lamm, VMM-261 course instructor. “PME, such as the Corporals Course, gives Marines a different outlook as new NCOs, while teaching them doctrine and reigniting the spark and their love for service they initially gained at boot camp.”

U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Jordan Wade, Joint Personnel Recovery Center controller, Senior Airman Uriah Lennox, 726th Expeditionary Mission Support Squadron Tactical Security Element member, and Senior Airman Hunter Knutson, 726th EMSS Fly-Away Security Team member represented the 449 Air Expeditionary Group in the course.

“Representing the Air Force was nothing short of amazing,” said Knutson. “I’ve always wondered if I had what it takes to be a Marine, so it was great to train by their side. Each physical training session we endured as a team was every bit more challenging than any PT I’ve done in my military career, but allowing myself to buy into the mentality that I can do anything I set my mind to really propelled me to get the most out of the course.”

The Corporals Course, enabled by Camp Lemonnier, welcomes service members from all branches of the military to enroll. This iteration featured members from the Marine Corps, Army, Navy and Air Force.

“Marines, by nature, are expeditionary fighters who almost always find themselves working inter-service,” said Lamm. “For that reason, I believe our sister services benefit from being included in our operations, such as the Corporal’s Course. Historically, the branches have worked together to accomplish many feats, and I think the continuation of joint operations, such as PME courses, will deepen our camaraderie and inter-service relationships to become a stronger fighting force as a whole.”

The 17-day training period consisted of both an academics and hands-on portion. The academics portion featured lessons on professional communication, combat operational stress control, joint operations and other topics relevant to leadership skills. During the hands-on aspect, they performed group physical training, drill and land navigation.

“The best way to face adversity is with a team by your side,” said Wade. “Certain objectives during this course felt impossible, but they became achievable once I saw the rest of my team trying. My biggest takeaways would be to remember that adversity can be succeeded through team effort and to never feel like you’re alone.”

During the course, students dove into the history of Marine Corps standards and traditions. They were also taught about the fundamentals of being a noncommissioned officer, such as the value of mentoring subordinates, communication and promotion systems. Though the course was originally intended for Marines, other services can benefit from the leadership skills taught throughout the training.

“I think the best kind of Airmen are the ones willing to step out of their comfort zones to do something different,” said Wade. “This furthers our efforts to convince our own Airmen to do the same. This course taught us to breed confidence in yourself and maximize the efforts you put forward, which I plan to do when I lead my own Airmen.”

Camp Lemonnier is an operational installation that enables U.S., allied and partner nation forces to be where they are needed to ensure security and protect U.S. interests. The installation provides world-class support for service members, transient U.S. assets and 38 local tenant commands, including VMM-261 and the 449th Air Expeditionary Group.

“I believe attending the course bettered me as an Airman because it allowed me to break out of my shell and finally start becoming a leader,” said Knutson. “The talks we had during our leadership time with instructors really gave me a new perspective on how I want to lead my future Airmen. My advice to anyone else who may be afraid to step out of their comfort zone is to attend the Corporals Course.”