Marine Corps Air Station Yuma


Hometown: Yuma, AZ, US

Marine Corps Air Station Yuma
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Passing of the Torch: MCAS Yuma Post & Relief Ceremony


Passing of the Torch: MCAS Yuma Post & Relief Ceremony


Story by Cpl. Uriel Avendano

Passing of the Torch: MCAS Yuma Post & Relief Ceremony MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. - “The quality of a leader is reflected in the standards they set for themselves." - Ray Kroc

Reflection enveloped spectators during the Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., post and relief ceremony on the station parade field Friday. Marines, sailors, family and friends came to witness the time-honored tradition as Sgt. Maj. Colen Laarman relinquished his role as the station sergeant major to Sgt. Maj. Delvin Smythe.

From the start, discipline and direction motivated a young Laarman to enlist in the Marine Corps in May 1991. Deployments overseas to Japan, Guam and Iraq made up the first chapter of his career; followed by a successful three-year tour as a drill instructor at Parris Island, South Carolina, with Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion.

Laarman then served in Bahrain as part of the Fleet Anti-Terrorism Security Team platoon, and later deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom 6-8. In May 2013, he was welcomed as the MCAS Yuma sergeant major.

During his 19-month tenure, Laarman paid particular attention to the Single Marine Program, which provides opportunities to improve the quality of life for the Marines under his charge. The program showed rapid growth during this time period and the Marines’ morale and participation increased exponentially.

“My advice to Sgt. Maj. Smythe would be to keep looking after these Marines and make sure to hold them accountable,” said Laarman, a native of Buna, Texas. “I have zero doubt that he is the perfect man for the job.”

During the ceremony, Col. Ricardo Martinez, the commanding officer of MCAS Yuma, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to Laarman and his family for their contribution to the Marine Corps.

“I just want to take the time to let you know that your father is a warrior,” said Martinez. “He would never brag about himself, so I’m going to do it for him.”

Martinez emphasized Laarman’s dedication to taking care of the Marines around him and his commitment to ensuring their quality of life.

With a heavy heart and mixed emotions, equal parts excitement and nostalgia, Laarman handed the reins over to Smythe with the utmost confidence in his abilities to carry on the duties expected of the station’s senior enlisted Marine.

Having enlisted using the buddy system, with his brother, in 1987, Smythe has always had a strong sense of family and commitment to his fellow Marines. The life-long University of Arizona Sun Devils fan looks forward to leading the Marines and sailors of this station, and building on the success of his predecessor.

“I am excited to be serving the Marine Corps in my home state of Arizona for the first time in my 27 years of service,” said Smythe. “My wife Tammie and I also look forward to learning more about Yuma and getting to meet the Marines, sailors and civilians on the station, as well as people in the surrounding community.”

Both men can attest that the rank of sergeant major in the Marine Corps carries a heavy sense of responsibility and commitment to duty. It is a high-visibility position that demands an unwavering sense of devotion. With that thought in mind, Laarman left a strong message in the minds of everyone in attendance.

“Stay hard on your Marines,” said Laarman. “Don’t go soft on them because keeping that discipline up – that’s what’s going to keep this Marine Corps rolling.”

Recent Video

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