MARINE CORPS AIR STATION NEW RIVER --
Sgt. Maj. Rodolfo R. Graham handed the duties as senior enlisted advisor of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 461 to Sgt. Maj. Ronald M. Jenks Jr. at the squadron’s hangar during a relief and appointment ceremony, July 9.
Graham has been the sergeant major of HMH-461 since October 2010. During his two years at Marine Corps Air Station New River, he has served as guide and mentor to the countless Marines he came in contact with.
“It didn’t matter where we went, people knew him,” said retired Lt. Col. Scott W. Wadle, the former commanding officer of HMH-461. “We all have many acquaintances and even fewer people you call your friends and confide in. Rudy Graham is someone who wherever he goes and whoever he meets, he leaves an indefinite mark on people.”
According to Wadle, Graham would never make a decision without fully understanding the situation and “sleeping on it.”
Another individual Graham came to know is Lt. Col. Nicholas A. Morris, the commanding officer of HMH-461, whom he worked side by side while governing the squadron.
“This is 461, (and it’s a) phenomenal squadron,” said Morris. “Phenomenal Marines and sailors don’t just happen; it’s because of exceptional leadership. The hard work and accolades of this squadron could not have happened without (Sgt. Maj. Graham).”
“There is a saying. One is only as good as the people you choose to surround yourself with, and it has been an honor and absolute pleasure to be surrounded by the finest staff NCOs (noncommissioned officers) the Corps has to offer,” said Graham during his last speech as senior enlisted advisor of HMH-461. “I tell you to take care of the little things because the big things will fall into place. Please continue to take care of the Marines because one day they will be taking my place.”
After serving 28 years in the Marine Corps, Graham is now retired. One of Graham’s main retirement goals is to spend more time with his 15-year-old son, Geovanni, an aspiring athlete and his wife Julie.
Although Graham is no longer the squadron sergeant major, Jenks is stepping up to fill his shoes.
Jenks arrived to New River from the 4th Landing Support Battalion in Fort Lewis, Wash., where he served as the inspector-instructor sergeant major.
Jenks has let HMH-461 Marines and sailors aware that he is here to support them and help them achieve greatness in the squadron. Jenks said he looks forward to working with the squadron.
“I am humbled and honored to be part of this unit,” said Jenks in his first speech as HMH-461 sergeant major. “I was asked to come here; I didn’t receive orders here. I jumped on it. This is a great unit. I did the research and I found nothing but good things about this squadron, and I am happy to be here.”