MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER, N.C. --
Sgt. Maj. Herbert Gongora, Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 26 sergeant major, passed on his legacy as the senior enlisted advisor of MALS-26 to Sgt. Maj. Willie E. Edens during a relief and appointment ceremony at the MALS-26 flight line, July 25.
Following the ceremony, Gongora retired after serving 30 years in the Marine Corps. Gongora started his career in 1983 as a rifleman, and soon distinguished himself as a scout sniper.
He served in the infantry for 23 years until receiving his first squadron, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 115 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.
“Working in the Marine Aircraft Wing is very different from the infantry,” said Gongora. “There are many unique challenges and opportunities. All the aviation Marines go to different schools for technical (Military Occupational Specialties). They work different hours-nights, days and weekends. There are a lot of pieces to the Marine aviation puzzle.”
Gongora has been the sergeant major of MALS-26 since 2010. While there, detachments of MALS-26 Marines have had numerous deployments.
“As a logistics squadron, when our Marines deploy they are detached to larger units. We average about nine of these kinds of detachments a year, so in my 36 months as sergeant major, we’ve had about 30 detachments to (Marine Expiditionary Units), to the Middle East and as special-purpose (Marine Air-Ground Task Forces). As of right now we have around 200 Marines deployed. It’s a busy squadron.”
Gongora has been on 11 deployments himself, serving across Europe, Africa and Asia.
His personal decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps commendation medal with two gold stars, the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal with two gold stars, and the military outstanding volunteer service medal.
“I’ve been to too many countries to name here,” said Gongora. “I wouldn’t have done anything different. I’ve had a great career.”
During his farewell speech, Gongora urged his Marines to remember their core values and achieve their goals.
“The Marine Corps has led me in the right direction for 30 years,” said Gongora. “I think any of my Marines have the ability to stay in the Corps for 30 years, as long as they follow their leadership principles and stick to their core values.”
Before Edens took his place as the new senior enlisted advisor of MALS-26, he served as sergeant major for 3rd Maintenance Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group. This will be his first time in his 26 year career serving on an air station.
“I expect the learning curve to be steep,” said Edens. “I will have to learn everything I can about what these Marines are all about and how to operate on an air station. But what I do know is there are great Marines here doing important work. And these Marines working behind the scenes allow the Marine Corps to succeed.”