Tag Archives: NCO academy

Airman trains with Marines


An Airman fell in with the Marine Corps recently.

Master Sgt. David Wolfe, a security forces Airman from Scott Air Force Base, Ill., is training at the Marine Corps Staff NCO Academy at Camp Pendleton in southern California. He volunteered for it after learning slots were available for Air Force senior NCOs.

“I knew this would be a challenge and the opportunity to work with the Marine Corps for seven weeks sounded like an awesome chance to grow personally and professionally,” said Sergeant Wolfe, who enlisted in the Air Force in 1992 and has served all over the world, to include the Middle East, Germany, Italy, Alaska and Wyoming. “My wife did three years in the Marine Corps and my oldest son enlisted last summer just after I left for Iraq, and is currently in tech school, so we have some family connection to the Corps as well.”

Sergeant Wolfe shared his first week experience with Air Force Live.

Week One

As our military continues to fight and train as a joint team, opportunities to gain experience working with different services grow. Training here at the Staff NCO Academy at Camp Pendleton, California is one of those chances that may only surface once in a career. That’s where I have been since leaving my job in the 375th Security Forces Squadron at Scott AFB, Illinois April 28th – attending the Marine Corps’s equivalent of the AFSNCOA with 103 United States Marine Gunnery Sergeants, and one Sergeant Major from the Taiwanese Marine Corps.

When I arrived, I had little idea what to expect, and was greeted by my roommate who just happens to be from my hometown of Grand Rapids, Michigan. Gunnery Sergeant Dan Raterink, a 13 year E-7 stationed at Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii has been keeping me in line and on track from the start.

The biggest difference so far, expectedly, is the frequency and intensity of the physical training program. PT is conducted five days per week, and it’s tough! We began by taking the Marine Corps physical fitness test on day one, a test that was recorded in the permanent personnel folder of each Marine. Everyone passed, and my roommate scored 290 out of 300, one of the highest in the class. I knew then I was not going to be permitted any slacking off in the PT department. Our schedule calls for 32 PT sessions in a 35 training day schedule.

The academics thus far have been largely similar to what we teach in our PME, with the obvious exception of the lingo barrier. Some common phrases used by the Marines are foreign to me, but everyone understands and is doing their best to keep me informed if start to look a little lost.

One interesting and motivating item I have enjoyed is the acceptance of yelling under what some might deem inappropriate circumstances. In the Air Force, we sometimes adopt the Army term “HUA” for a motivating yell or even a greeting, and of course the Marines use a different “OORAH” for the same basic purposes. However, the use of barking, grunting, or any other loud yell seems totally acceptable at any time to express ones acceptance of an order or instruction. They say I’ll be doing it too before long and I think they could be right!

Several homework assignments are taking up the first full weekend here in sunny southern California, and we are working together as a team to get done our mission requirements. My roommate asked me to attend some PT sessions with him after duty hours as well, and I have been. With 14 work outs in just 10 days, and the concentration on nutrition, I think seeing some progress in the fit of my clothing is a good possibility.

Being here with some of the finest men and women our country has to offer has been a true blessing and I am looking forward to the next five weeks.

Until next week, “OORAH” from Camp Pendleton.