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Striving for excellence: Marine awarded for leadership

By Sgt. Dengrier M. Baez | Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort | March 10, 2016


  The Marine Corps teaches the fundamentals of leadership with the end result of every Marine becoming a leader. Amongst the many leaders there are those who standout and rise above the standards.

  Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 recognized Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Aguilar for his leadership during a ceremony at their facility aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort March 2. During the ceremony, Aguilar was presented with the Navy & Marine Association Leadership Award, a peer-selected recognition.

  “I am very humbled for receiving this award,” said Aguilar. “I knew about the nomination but was not too optimistic because I don’t do anything special. I just take care of these Marines and this award is on their shoulders.”

  Aguilar, a maintenance controller with VMFA-312, was nominated for the award in 2014 and was selected by The Navy & Marine Association in 2015. The association sponsors more than 400 awards annually for commanders to recognize officers and enlisted personnel who have been selected by their peers as outstanding leaders in their respective communities.

  “Gunnery Sgt. Aguilar sets the mark for others to emulate,” said Lt. Col. Harry F. Thomas, the commanding officer of VMFA-312. “He is the consummate professional that is eager to coach, mentor, teach and train all Marines of the squadron whenever the situation arise to do so.”

  Early in Aguilar’s career he strived for excellence when he earned two meritorious promotions - lance corporal and corporal - while assigned to VMFA-112 in the early 2000s. From 2002 to 2007, Aguilar served with VMFA-212 deploying to various exercises in the Asian Pacific Region, and Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 where he deployed under the Unit Deployment Program to MCAS Iwakuni, Japan.

  “Gunnery Sgt. Aguilar is looked up to as a father, husband, and Marine,” said Staff Sgt. Justin S. Keeling, the intelligence chief with VMFA-312. “Whether it’s taking a Marine out on a run, putting on his cranial to give a hip-pocket session to a Marine on a procedure or providing a mentoring session, he is always available to every Marine, anytime, anywhere.”

  The successes in his career brought Aguilar to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island to serve as a drill instructor in 2008. There he made, lead and mentor new Marines at Company G, 2nd Recruit Training Battalion as a drill instructor and as a senior drill instructor. In 2013 and now with VMFA-312, he deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom while on-board USS Harry S. Truman.

  “As a former drill instructor his expert opinion is regularly sought out for all matters pertaining to ceremonies and drill,” said Keeling. “His dedication to the Marines is evident by the long hours spent at the squadron ensuring the Marines understand correct maintenance procedures and that there are quality air-worth aircraft that will keep our pilots safe.”

  The Chicago native credits his leadership style to those noncommissioned officers and staff noncommissioned officers who he came up under, saying he is doing what others did for him in the past. For Aguilar the phrase “imitation is the best form of flattery” is what drives him to be the best example for all, in particular the junior Marines.

  “NCOs look up to him and consistently seek him out for advice, guidance and wisdom regarding his technical prowess,” said Sgt. Maj. Adrian L. Tagliere, the sergeant major for VMFA-312. “The leadership he offers is precious and rare. He provides positive examples to the Marines within VMFA-312 and really represents our Checkerboard motto “Fight’s On” to the highest degree.”