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Maj. Gen. Steven W. Busby, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, explains to Cpl. Mark Willoughby Jr., an air command and control electronics operator with Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38 and an Artesia, Calif. native that he will be the first to run the first obstacle course aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. Aug. 22. Willoughby estimates he will be able to run the course in under two-and-a-half minutes when the last post stands up in November.

Photo by Cpl. Melissa Wenger

One good question leads to immediate action at Miramar

22 Aug 2013 | Cpl. Melissa Wenger

"How come this is the only Marine Corps instillation that does not have an obstacle course?”

One noncommissioned officer dared to ask his senior leadership this question, and the results were just like the Marine Corps: expeditious.

Cpl. Mark Willoughby Jr., an air command and control electronics operator with Marine Tactical Air Command Squadron 38 and an Artesia, Calif. native, spoke his mind to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing Commanding General Maj. General Steven W. Busby.  Days later, Willoughby put a shovel into the earth during a groundbreaking ceremony for the obstacle course at the parade field aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif. August 22.

“I’m actually a third generation Marine,” Willoughby said. “My grandfather and father were Marines before me. I told them about this and they were both baffled. To have senior leadership listen to, essentially, a lowly E-4 corporal… is a really big deal.”

Miramar’s new obstacle course is being constructed by Marines of Marine Wing Support Squadron 373.  It is planned to be 300 feet long and 24 feet wide, encompassing 14 different events, just like the courses all Marines run during recruit training. After tackling massive logs and scaling a wooden wall, they’ll finish off a day’s training with a 20-foot rope climb.

“It’ll give them a break in the monotony of running or lifting weights or something like that,” said Willoughby. “It’ll give them the chance to do something that requires the finer muscles and a little bit of talent, so I think it’ll be an essential and thorough workout for some of the units.”

The obstacle course is slated to be completed sometime in November, and Willoughby will be the first to run it start to finish.

According to Busby, the committed and engaged leadership initiative is personified by events like this groundbreaking ceremony. 

“I hope this is a very visible signal to our Marines, particularly to our VIPS and our NCOs, that we are really interested in what they have to say and they can make a difference each and every day,” he said. “So we ask them what’s on their mind; we want to know. They have the ideas: we don’t, so when people look at the obstacle course, I hope they see that. This represents the ideas in the minds of our NCOs, our VIPs.”

3rd Marine Aircraft Wing