MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- An eight-year-old girl looks at her father and knows she wants to be just like him, a United States Marine. Now, that same girl is the sergeant major of an installation, in charge of more than 15,000 Marines and sailors.
Sgt. Maj. Bonnie L. Skinner, the sergeant major of Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and a Quincy, Mass., native, worked hard to reach where she is now.
With her father being a former Marine and police officer she grew up learning about the Corps.
“The group I was around was nothing but Marines and police officers who were former Marines,” said Skinner. “Every time that I was at a function or around them of course the Marines’ Hymn played. They would stand at attention so I would stand at attention.”
Anxious to join, she began to make contact with a recruiter when she was only 16 years old. Back then, there was no delayed entry program but the recruiters kept in contact with her and her family over the next two years, explained Skinner.
In 1985, Skinner left for recruit training and her family knew she was going to have a hard time with the drill instructors.
“As a teenager she was a little bit of a handful,” said Ginni Skinner, mother of Bonnie Skinner and a Carver, Mass., native. “She never liked being told what to do.”
Skinner always looks for the opportunity to lead and that is why every time she moves up she is looking for added responsibilities, explained Ginni Skinner.
Even to this day, Skinner remembers what she felt when she received her eagle, globe and anchor, which was but one of her proudest accomplishments.
“I felt 10 feet tall. I felt bullet proof,” said Skinner.
Over the next years, she traveled the world and served at numerous commands.
Some of her favorite moments included her time with 2nd Marine Division, the Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 363 “Lucky Red Lions” and her times as a Drill Instructor, added Skinner.
“I’m very partial to 2nd Marine Division because I feel they gave me my structure as a young [non-commissioned officer]. They did a lot of mentoring; they kind of raised me,” said Skinner.
Being one of only 21 women sergeants major in the Marine Corps, her mother sees her daughter as a role model for young women.
“I believe she has helped many young women through all her accomplishments and has opened [opportunities] for them. I think that’s a wonderful thing,” said Ginni Skinner.
Sgt. Maj. Skinner proves that hard work and determination are the keys to success and hopes to pass this advice to Marines everywhere.
“Don’t let anything ever get in your way. Period. Whatever your goals are, you have to go out and accomplish them. All you need to do is continue to reach for what you want” said Skinner.
With all her achievements in the Corps, Skinner embodies the leader many young Marines strive to be. In July, Skinner will reach her 28 year mark in the Marine Corps and she does not see an end to her adventure any time soon.