MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The Marines and Sailors of Headquarters Battalion bid farewell to Sgt. Maj. Victor H. Martin and welcomed aboard their new sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Nicholas “Bo” Bourikas, in a relief and appointment ceremony at the Combat Center’s parade field May 9.
Martin will continue his career as the sergeant major of 1st Marine Logistics Group at Camp Pendleton, Calif.
Martin, a 43-year-old native of Tacoma, Wash., enlisted in the Marine Corps in May 1985, and graduated boot camp from Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego. Then he trained for the military occupational specialty, infantryman, at the Infantry Training School, Camp Pendleton. A few of Martin’s assignments include Marine Security Guard, reconnaissance Marine, drill instructor and assistant Marine officer instructor at the University of Washington.
Throughout his career, Martin has completed scuba, jump, ranger and pathfinder school. He also has a bachelor’s degree in social psychology.
Martin has been assigned to more than seven duty stations and participated in seven deployments, including two in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment.
Martin was frocked to sergeant major in November 2005, and has been the Headquarters Battalion sergeant major since February.
His awards and decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, six Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, a Combat Action Ribbon and six Good Conduct Medals.
Serving as the Headquarters Battalion sergeant major was Martin’s first experience leading Marines outside of the infantry field. He learned about another side of the Marine Corps, he said.
“I’ve learned more communication skills working with such a diverse group of Marines,” Martin explained. “There are preconceived ideas about a support unit that a lot of Marines have, and serving with Headquarters has made me see the other side of it. Sometimes we forget about the Marines who run the day-to-day comforts the infantrymen come home to.”
While speaking to the Marines and Sailors of Headquarters Battalion after a rehearsal for the post and relief ceremony, Martin reminded the young troops of how important their role is.
“Don’t forget the impact you have in the Marine Corps and the mission,” he said to the crowd. “You are the ones who make this base run. You all might not be the one in the news, but you support the training and the Marines in the news.”
Acquiring leadership skills during his 21-year long career in the Marine Corps, Martin found leadership styles vary by the Marines, he said.
“It has changed over the years,” he said. “Your style must adapt to the Marines you’re leading.”
Martin looks forward to moving on and wishes Bourikas a successful tour with Headquarters Battalion, he said.
“Treat these Marines with firmness, fairness, dignity at all times and with patience and you’ll be fine,” said Martin, as his advice to Bourikas.
Since 2003, Bourikas served as the sergeant major of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 332 based in Beaufort, S.C., and was deployed once in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. In March, he received orders to Headquarters Battalion.
Bourikas, a 42-year-old Orlando, Fla., native, enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1981 when he was 17 years old. He graduated boot camp at MCRD Parris Island, S.C., and then trained to become a non-Morse intercept operator. Some of the billets he has held during his career include classic wizard operator, electronic warfare chief, and infantry controller.
Bourikas has served at more than 12 different commands, including three tours at the Combat Center.
His awards and decorations include four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and the Combat Action Ribbon.
Bourikas is more than pleased to be back at the Combat Center, he said.
“This is home to me and my family,” he said. “The environment here is great: the people, the Marines, all of it. Plus, it’s the Marine Corps’ premier training facility.”
Bourikas has an 18-month old son, George Nicholas Bourikas II, who he looks forward to raising in the Combat Center community, he said.
As for the leadership role he will be playing for the troops of Headquarters Battalion, Bourikas has his ways set, he explained.
“I’m a firm, fair, consistent leader,” he said. “I’ve learned if you treat your Marines as an adult, they will act like adults. We get our work done, and when there is no work to be done, go do something else.
“I look forward to working directly with the customer service Marines on a daily basis, he said. “This will be interesting and fun.”