CAMP LEJEUNE , N.C. --
Lance Cpl. Austin Youngblood spends a great deal of time in a maintenance bay working to ensure light armored vehicles are ready to deploy.
For him, getting away from the daily grind is a welcome change.
Youngblood recently completed the Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar hosted by 2nd Maintenance Battalion in the field at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from April 8-12.
Youngblood, who grew up in Tifton, Georgia, spent his early 20s working on railroads throughout the east coast. At 28 years old, he joined the Marine Corps after seeing the success of high school classmates who joined the military. He wanted the challenge and the camaraderie the Corps offers.
"I wanted to better myself as a person and provide a better life for my family," said Youngblood, a light armored vehicle mechanic with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, Combat Logistics Regiment 25, 2nd Marine Logistics Group.
The Lance Corporal Leadership and Ethics Seminar is a prerequisite to becoming a noncommissioned officer. In 2014, at the direction of the commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Marine Corps University developed the course to enhance small unit leadership and ensure a better understanding of Marine Corps ethos.
The seminar, led by noncommissioned officers and Staff NCOs from each command, gives units the discretion to add material when appropriate. So, 2nd Maintenance Battalion chose the field over the classroom.
"It's good to get out and network with Marines from different companies," Youngblood said.
Being out in the field has the added opportunity of having more time together, and more time for the Marines to learn. Each evening the course instructors gave classes on historic Marine Corps battles, a topic not covered in the regular course curriculum.
“Learning about the Marines who came before us reinforces why it is important to honor the traditions they set for us,” Youngblood said.
During the course, Youngblood earned the title of class first sergeant, a role awarded to him after being interviewed by class leadership at the beginning of the course. This position made him responsible for relaying messages from instructors to the class while ensuring their orders were carried out with precision and in a timely manner.
"He has a lot of life experience. He sets a good example for us to emulate," said Lance Cpl. Shamari Davids about Youngblood.
Youngblood has only been at 2nd Maintenance Battalion for just more than six months but has enjoyed his time in the Corps so far; he plans on making the Marine Corps a career.
The most important thing Youngblood says he learned over the five-day course was, “You don’t have to be an NCO to act like one.”