Soldier Spotlight

One MAG-12 sailor reveals his road to success |

6/4/2010 By Lance Cpl. Claudio A. Martinez, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan — The Navy has a long tradition, filled with the honorable acts its sailors did in the name of their country and for the sake of their fellow shipmates.

Today, as yesterday, sailors live their lives using the Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment as a roadmap to success and leadership.

Many sailors aspire daily to be the best embodiment of the naval tradition they belong to.

Approximately 35 years ago, the department of the Navy developed the Sea Sailor of the Year program in an effort to recognize the best of those sailors.

After being recommended for the award and appearing before numerous boards, Petty Officer 1st Class Lawrence Comdeco, Marine Aircraft Group 12 aeromedical safety corpsman, was recently recognized as the Marine Forces Pacific Sea Sailor of the Year.

“It’s an honor (to be recognized as the MARFORPAC Sea Sailor of the Year),” said Comdeco. “It feels great to be recognized for something that you think of as your daily job.”

Comdeco joined the Navy on June 6, 2001, and even before he joined, his path was laid out before him by what his grandfather Frank Comdeco taught him.

“When I was young, thinking that I could conquer the world, he told me a quote,” said Comdeco. “The quote was, ‘Judge your success by what you gave up in order to achieve it.’ That‘s how I live my life; by that quote.”

Sometimes you have to give things up and make sacrifices in order to be successful, especially in the military, Comdeco said.

“Using that guideline has helped me progress quickly.”

Throughout his naval career, Comdeco has had many memorable moments, always keeping in mind what his grandfather taught him and adding to his knowledge the lessons he’s learned along the way.

One of the of the highlights of Comdeco’s career came when he served as the MAG-12 squadron gunnery sergeant from November 2008 to November 2009.

“For me, personally, that has to be one of the highlights of my career,” said Comdeco. “It was definitely an honor to be able to do that.”

When he first received his post as the MAG- 12 squadron gunnery sergeant, Comdeco was questioned how was it possible that he, as a sailor, was leading Marines.

“My response to everybody was, leadership is leadership regardless of the service you’re in,” said Comdeco. “If you’re an E-6 or an E-7, you should be able to be an E-6 or an E-7 no matter what service it is, if you’re a good leader.”

As Comdeco continued to do what was asked of him, his quality as a sailor and leadership abilities became apparent to both the Marines and sailors around him, and he was recommended to appear before a board to compete for Sea Sailor of the Year.

“For me, all throughout the year, it was not a thought in my mind that I would get sailor of the year,” said Comdeco.

The only thought in mind was to do the job and to do it right, he added.

Comdeco said he attributes his present success as MARFORPAC sailor of the year, to his present command and to the junior Marines and sailors under his charge.

“At this command, they care about succeeding,” said Comdeco. “They care about me succeeding. When you have that environment around you, there’s nothing else you can attribute to succeeding except for the people around you.”

After appearing before numerous boards and returning to Iwakuni as MARFORPAC sailor of the year, few doubted he would succeed, but some were still surprised.

“Honestly, I couldn‘t believe it,” said Lt. Austin Wade Latour, MAG-12 aeromedical officer and Comdeco‘s supervisor. “It’s a long road; it’s a tough road. I guess I wasn‘t surprised, (when he received the recognition) but I was definitely excited. I was just happy for him.”

Latour said he believes Comdeco is a good example for what junior personnel should strive for.

“He’s a good person to emulate if you want to make rank fast and be a good leader,” said Latour. “He knows how to do all that.”

Comdeco’s qualities and abilities have not been lost on the junior personnel under his tutelage.

Petty Officer Raulito Galgana, MAG-12 command career counselor, was sponsored by Comdeco when he arrived on board here two years ago.

Galgana said Comdeco has been his primary mentor ever since he first arrived on station.

“I was meritoriously promoted last year, and I can actually say under his wing,” said Galgana. “He guided me, he mentored me. When I was in a jam or I had decisions to make, I consulted with him and he provided his advice, and most of the time if not all the time I followed his advice. He came to be an outstanding mentor for my career.”

Galgana said one of the things he learned from Comdeco was that at the end of every day he should ask himself what has he done for his junior personnel, the Navy and for himself.

“That only goes to show that whatever he does that day, whatever sacrifices he has made makes him that much of a better sailor,” said Galgana. “He is what a sailor of the year defines. He is a poster-child-sailor. He is what people should look up to and want to be when they’re at his level.”

Although Comdeco is appreciative of the recognition he’s received, he realizes some things continue to be more important than awards and recognition.

“It’s not about an award,” said Comdeco. “It’s more about getting the job done. Doing it right the first time.” It’s about taking care of the Marines and sailors around you and under your charge, he added.

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