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Flying into glory
US Marine Corps | Sep. 6, 2023
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, CA.: Early in the morning, a UC-12W aircraft, callsign Stampede 19, is parked at the Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton flight line. U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Marc Mihailovic, a radar technician with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Camp Pendleton, arrived to the flight line early, well before the pilot and passengers.
He was there, safety and mission in mind, to perform a detailed preflight inspection to ensure the aircraft was in working order and would successfully and safely get where it needed to go. The UC-12W aircraft is typically used to carry VIPs from various places in a timely manner. It is also essential in mission accomplishment and able to go long distances without stopping to refuel.
Growing up in Sacramento, California, Mihailovic was recruited out of Recruiting Station Sacramento, Recruiting Sub-station Roseville, and was immediately drawn into the Marine Corps’ promise of excitement and adventure. After graduating high school he decided to take on the challenge of becoming a United States Marine.
From the moment he learned there were opportunities in the Marine Corps allowing him to work with aircraft, Mihailovic knew he wanted to be in the air. After completing training for his military occupational specialty, air traffic control radar technician, at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida in 2016, Mihailovic learned that he could take on an additional MOS and become an enlisted aircrewman. Mihailovic made it his absolute goal from then on to get on the aircraft and eventually into the cockpit.
Mihailovic has accomplished many things during his eight-year career, including becoming a loadmaster on the Marine Corp’s C-20G aircraft, as well as being the first Marine in the history of the Marine Transport Squadron detachment to become a Transport Aircrewman Naval Air Training and Operations Procedures Standardization instructor without an original aircrew MOS background.
He was meritoriously promoted to the rank of corporal in 2017 and again to the rank of sergeant in 2018. He also won the Air Traffic Control Technician of the Year award while stationed at MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Marine Corps Base Hawaii in 2020. Upon arriving at MCAS Camp Pendleton, due to his expertise and extensive experience, he was assigned as the senior enlisted aircrew maintenance chief and lead instructor for all transport air crew.
Having traveled to almost every allied country in the Pacific, Mihailovic was exposed to things he otherwise never would have been able to be a part of. He has experienced many cultures, seen different service’s aircraft and procedures and interacted with an array senior military leaders – a unique experience for such a young Marine. Furthermore, while with the VMR detachment, Mihailovic was able to support critical movements with the Commanding General of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, II Marine Expeditionary Force, to numerous European countries, including Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Norway, Germany, and Italy.
Now stationed at Camp Pendleton, Mihailovic is being awarded the San Diego Military Advisory Council Achievement award for his outstanding performance while serving as staff non-commissioned officer in charge of the VMR detachment and as a UC-12W NATOPS instructor with H&HS at MCAS Camp Pendleton from February 2022 to June 2023.
The work he has recently been recognized for is arduous. Mihailovic spends his days in a no-fail environment, working within the airfield operations department, which includes fuel, air traffic control, ordinance, aircraft rescue, firefighting and flight clearance. As a radar technician, Mihailovic maintains all the equipment for air traffic control, including communication antennas and radios, weather sensors, navigational aids, and coordinating with higher Navy leadership to get repairs and upgrades. And as an aircrewman, where safety is priority, Mihailovic can see the immediate impact of his job.
Knowing you are getting Marines where they need to go with all their equipment and supporting the mission is really rewarding, said Mihailovic.
“What I love about the job is that within one day, you pick up the people, you drop them off somewhere else and you have an immediate impact on that group, which is really awesome.”
— Sgt. Marc Mihailovic, a radar technician with Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Camp Pendleton
With enduring commitment to his Marines, Mihailovic inspires everyone he works with to go above and beyond on a daily basis. “I really invest myself into everything that’s happening; the mission, training, my development, and the development of my Marines,” he said.
Encouraged by his senior leaders to always keep improving, Mihailovic advises junior Marines to set goals and work to achieve them through all resources available.
You never know when your chance to step out of you comfort zone is going to come. It may not be today, it may not be next week, but if there is something you want to do, make sure you're accomplishing the mission, know your job, stay ready as you keep pushing for it, and your time will come, said Mihailovic.
Not only is Mihailovic committed to a full time job, putting in over 40 hours of work a week, he also pursued higher education with the goal of becoming a pilot. He attended the University of Maryland Global Campus, and just completed his Bachelor of Science in general studies. This required a commitment of more than 12 hours a week to his studies on top of his typical work commitments. As a leader in the Marine Corps, Mihailovic is always on the lookout for the next challenge.
With dedication to excellence and duty, Mihailovic continues to set the standard for professionalism, attention to detail, mission accomplishment, fixing his eyes on the future and always looking forward.