NEW RIVER, N.C. - Sgt. Maj. Bradley W. Baiotto stepped on deck as the sergeant major of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (VMM), Sept. 13, during a relief and appointment ceremony in the VMM-365 hangar.
During the ceremony, Sgt. Maj. Jeffery M. Cullen stepped down as senior enlisted advisor for the squadron and retired.
Baiotto just returned from a deployment to Afghanistan a month before the ceremony.
“Things are moving fast,” said Baiotto. “But I respect what this squadron does. They have great pilots and outstanding maintainers. I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Baiotto came to VMM-365 from Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 8 aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, where he served as the battalion sergeant major.
“This will be my first time serving in the wing of the Marine Corps,” said Baiotto. “I volunteered for this opportunity so I could see how each part of a (Marine Air-Ground Task Force) worked.”
Before CLB-8, Baiotto served as the company first sergeant for Marine Special Operations Command Company A.
“I heard about Cullen while I was in MARSOC,” said Baiotto. “They said great things about him there; he’s a legend in that community.”
During his appointment speech, Baiotto told the people in attendance that the ceremony is not about them getting a new sergeant major, but rather recognizing a true American hero in Cullen.
“I have made very few decisions here without first consulting Sgt. Maj. Cullen,” said Lt. Col. Christian Harshberger, VMM-365 commanding officer. “The few times that I didn’t consult him was only because I physically could not get a hold of him. I will miss him. I could not have done all the things I’ve done in this squadron without him.”
Cullen has been the senior enlisted advisor of VMM-365 since January 2011. This was Cullen’s first experience with the wing as well.
“When I came to VMM-365 from 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, I had never been part of the air wing before,” said Cullen. “But Marines from VMM-365 flew for my Marines when we were deployed, so I knew they were good guys. They always get the job done.”
Cullen said working in the “air” section of a MAGTF presents unique challenges.
“I had to learn how to fly with all the other crew chiefs,” said Cullen. “The enlisted Marines of VMM-365 know what they’re doing. Sgt. Maj. Baiotto lucked out with them.”