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On Feb. 11, Sgt. Maj. Robert Pullen relinquished his duties as acting sergeant major of Yuma-based Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 to his successor Sgt. Maj. Lonny Solari during a relief and appointment ceremony at the parade deck at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma. The passing of a ceremonial NCO sword signifies the transfer of sacred trust from one sergeant major to another.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Uriel Avendano

Relief & Appointment

11 Feb 2013 | Lance Cpl. Uriel Avendano

"If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader." - John Quincy Adams

The transfer of power at a relief and appointment ceremony for Yuma-based Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 13 took place at the parade deck aboard Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Feb. 11.

After assuming responsibility as the senior enlisted Marine leadership of MALS-13 in December of 2011, Sgt. Maj. Robert Pullen sought to leave a worthwhile impression in the lives of his Marines. Establishing the importance of making solid career decisions, maintaining Corps professionalism and heightening an overall sense of morale were the focus points of Pullen's plans.

"He's exactly what you would expect of a sergeant major. If there was a guy you would want to picture as your sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Pullen is that Marine," said Lt. Col. Patrick Waugh, MALS-13 commanding officer and a native of Huntington, W. Va. "The way he conducts himself, the way he acts professionally on and off duty. He's just a phenomenal staff NCO and always looking out for the best interest of his Marines and that unit."

Under Pullen's guidance as sergeant major, the Black Widows' meritorious promotions were kept competitive within MAG-13. Enhancing the units individual Marines to strengthen the entire squadron made for a strong connection between the junior enlisted and their approachable, fair but firm, leader.

"He sets a high example with his persona and the way he carries himself," said Lance Cpl. David Wells, a MALS-13 logistics specialist and a native of Portland, Ore. "He's knowledgeable. He's approachable, really smart, and he knows everything about drill."

For Pullen, since taking the reins more than a year ago, MALS-13 has supported the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, two 31st Marine Expeditionary Units, Operation Enduring Freedom 12-1 and 12-2, plus Marine Attack Squadron 211's OEF deployment. For a unit that regularly has over 20 percent of its Marines deployed on any given day in the year, Pullen never underestimated the importance of his role as a mentor and senior enlisted leader.

Also serving as the MALS-13 command representative for the Family Advocacy Program Case Review Committee, the 20 plus year Marine veteran made sure his Marines were taken care of at home as well as abroad.

"I think everyone has a great amount of respect for him," said Wells. "He definitely looks out for us."

Between ensuring the safety of his Marines through the Arrive Alive program and promoting the importance of Professional Military Education training, Pullen has left a legacy of conscious awareness among the Black Widows.

For his successor, Sgt. Maj. Lonny Solari, Pullen looks to establish the fact that all Marines matter, regardless of rank. A sentiment he will, undoubtedly, carry with him to his next assignment.

"Sgt. Maj. Lonny Solari - I've already talked to him. What I've been telling him is that he's got a great set of Marines," said Pullen. "Everything just clicks in the MALS. And it's not because of the sergeant major - It's because of our youngest leaders; our young NCO's, our lance corporals and below that are out there doing the hard work."

A point reiterated at the relief and appointment ceremony, where Pullen made sure to also thank his mentors Lt. Col. Waugh, Sgt. Maj. Karl Villalino, station sergeant major, and Marine Aircraft Group 13 Sgt. Maj. Lawrence Archambault. Finally, Pullen made sure to thank his wife, Melissa Pullen, and son, Jason for their unwavering love and support.

"I appreciate everything he's done for the command and me, personally," said Waugh. "And I wish him and Melissa the best of luck at Camp Lejeune."

Pullen is slated to check in to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, N.C., at the end of February.

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