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439th AW Airman graduates Marine Corps course

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Shane M. Phipps
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. — A 439th Airman recently graduated from the Marine Corps’ version of a Senior Noncommissioned Officer Academy, at Camp Pendleton Calif.

Master Sgt. Stephen Malanaphy Jr., 439th Mission Support Group training manager, attended what is colloquially known as “Gunny School”, the nearly two-month-long course is required for Marines in the rank of E-7, or Gunnery Sergeant, to promote to the next rank. With similar objectives, the Marine course can fulfill the Air Force SNCOA requirement for promotion to the next grade of E-8, or Senior Master Sergeant.

“What people should know is that Air Force Reserve Command has seats allocated for members to attend SNCOA with the Marine Corps, the Navy, or the Coast Guard,” said Malanaphy. “There are Professional Development and NATO courses. The application process starts by talking with your supervisor and then submitting an AFRC Enlisted Developmental Education Board application via myPers. The courses are funded by AFRC, and not their units.”

One of only two reserve Airmen in his class, Malanaphy’s application process began more than a year ago.

“The reason I picked the Marine Corps course was two-fold,” said Malanaphy. “The first is I noticed the number of Air Force applicants was extremely low for the Marine Corps Course. The second is I knew their course would be way outside what we do in the Air Force. I’ve been in the Air Force 16 years and really just wanted to do something different for a change.”

With joint-service deployments becoming a norm, Malanaphy’s commander understands the tangible benefits of interacting with members of different military branches.

“The future of conflict can never be exactly predicted, but we know the trend to greater interaction amongst the services in deployed environments is increasing,” said Col. Karen Magnus, 439th Mission Support Group commander. “The more our members have the opportunity to work with and learn from each other, the better prepared they are for whatever the future may hold. Joint-service, in-residence opportunities provide time to interact with each other in a much more extensive way than just casual contact at the occasional joint military event.”

Knowing the Marine Corps’ culture of excellent physical fitness, Malanaphy ensured he was as prepared as possible to keep up with his classmates.

“I had this mindset when I was selected that it was going to be an extremely physically demanding course,” said Malanaphy. “So when I found out I was selected, I busted my butt to get in the best shape I’ve ever been in. When I got there, I realized they’re starting to focus more on the curriculum and less on physicality. It ended up being very familiar from a professional development standpoint. Fitness was definitely a factor, and was more intense than what we’re used to in the Air Force, but no one should be too intimidated to apply.”

Malanaphy’s leadership is proud of his level of preparedness and dedication to represent the Air Force and AFRC in a positive way.

“He worked very hard before he departed because he wanted to represent the Air Force and Air Force Reserve well,” said Magnus. “He knew fitness was an important part of the Marine Corps culture, and he made sure he was ready.”

Overall, the opportunity for Malanaphy to learn from the Marine Corps and be able to stand out among his Air Force peers proved to be an invaluable experience.

“It was a great experience and I would encourage anyone eligible to apply,” he said. “When you get into the SNCO ranks where positions and promotions become more competitive, and everyone’s accomplishments are very similar, I think it’s something like this that makes you stand out.”