MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Sergeant Major David L. Jobe replaced retiring Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Kufchak as the 1st Marine Division sergeant major in a post, relief and retirement ceremony here, April 5.
During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. Ronald L. Bailey, the 1st Marine Division commanding general, presented the Legion of Merit award to Kufchak, one of the highest decorations awarded to military service members.
Jobe, a native of Burleson, Texas, recently arrived from Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., where he served as the 8th Marine Regiment sergeant major. In 2011, he deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan, with Regimental Combat Team 8 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Jobe said he plans to change very little from what was established by Kufchak.
“The division’s in a very strong position,” Jobe. “They’ve had a great sergeant major. I just hope to try to keep the division going in that direction and move the ball forward a few yards.”
As the new sergeant major, his priority is helping the division adjust to a peacetime garrison environment. Marines will be able to pay more attention to traditional military skills, focusing on uniforms, drill, history, and customs and courtesies.
The skills taught in recruit training are essential to being a good Marine, Jobe said.
“We need to get back to understanding what garrison life holds,” said Jobe. “If you did everything that you were taught in recruit training to the best of your ability, then you are a successful Marine. Being in garrison allows you to perfect the small things you learned in recruit training.”
Kufchak, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, will retire to his home in Corona, Calif. He said he plans to remain involved with the Marines at Camp Pendleton where he spent most of his 31 years of active duty service.
Kufchak served as the 1st Marine Division sergeant major since April 2010. Prior to assuming the post, he served most of his career as an infantryman in a 1st Marine Division unit, spending all but three years of his career assigned to units in Southern California.
Kufchak said his greatest contribution to the Division was aiding in the transition to garrison life as the Marines continued to draw down forces in Afghanistan.
Kufchak wanted to leave nothing undone by the end of each day to ensure every Marine was taken care of.
No other active duty Marine spent as much time serving with 1st Marine Division units as Kufchak, he said.
His journey in the division took him from serving as a squad leader to leading more than 25,000 Marines and sailors.
“My entire career has been spent in 1st Marine Division,” Kufchak said. “It’s just hard to fathom that this is over. I cannot tell you where 32 years of my life have gone to, but I can tell you this: my life has counted, and my life has mattered as a United States Marine.”