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Sgt. Pedro A. Borunda was named the 2016 Noncommissioned Officer of the Year for III Marine Expeditionary Force in December of 2016. Today, his fellow Marines consider him a leading example and inspiration both as a person and a Marine. Borunda, a native of Aurora, Colorado, is the training NCO with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division. III MEF. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jonah Baase)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Jonah Baase

Paving the way: An NCO to emulate

7 Feb 2017 | Samantha Villareal 10th Marine Regiment

As an institution dedicated to duty and commitment to excellence, the Marine Corps is a foundation dependent on leadership. One of the foundations of leadership in the Corps is the noncommissioned officer -- the backbone of the Marine Corps -- who ensures the successful completion of the mission.

In a group of exceptional leaders, standing out for demonstrating the leadership traits, principles and ethos of the Marine Corps can be challenging. However, Sgt. Pedro A. Borunda, the training NCO with Combat Assault Battalion, 3rd Marine Division, earned special leadership distinction by winning the 2016 NCO of the Year for III Marine Expeditionary Force. Today, Borunda continues to set a positive example for those around him, inside and outside the Marine Corps.

Borunda's Marine Corps journey began three years ago. He enlisted from Recruiting Station Denver, Colorado, and reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, for recruit training.

“I wanted to be a better version of myself both physically and mentally,” said Borunda, a native of Aurora, Colorado. “I felt like the Marine Corps was the best opportunity to do that.”

Little did he know just how well he would do. Before being named III MEF NCO of the year, Borunda was meritoriously promoted three consecutive times with only three years in service.

“He works hard day and night, going out of his way to help anyone who needs it,” said Cpl. Tyler Lucas, a field radio operator with CAB. “He embodies what it means to be a Marine in and out of uniform.”

Borunda said the Marine Corps is a tough lifestyle that involves new challenges every day.

“You have to wake up in the morning and tackle it head on,” said Borunda. “It’s about taking it one day at a time full force and giving it your 110%.”

Even with all of his accomplishments, Borunda continues to give his all to the Marine Corps and his fellow Marines.

“Leadership is motivating people to do what they don’t want to do, and getting involved in what they’re doing, and not watching from the sidelines,” said Borunda. “You have to stand up for the little guy and look out for their best interest. It’s something that doesn’t change, regardless of rank.”

When he’s not busy helping his Marines strive to be better, Borunda is out volunteering.

“He’s volunteered more than anyone I know, clocking in over 100 hours of volunteer work,” said 1st Lt. Cyle Schultz, the platoon commander with S-6 Communications, CAB.

Borunda said that reflecting on the sacrifices of other Marines, past and present, drives him to succeed.

“The military lifestyle can be taxing,” said Borunda. “But you have to keep in mind that no matter what you’re going through, there’s always someone out there who has it worse. You have to keep pushing forward.”

Borunda said he views the Marine Corps as a family. Leadership extends past the word itself; it consists of doing what is best for your Marines, similar to what someone does for those in his family.

“He’s someone to look up to,” said Lucas, a Butler, Oklahoma, native. “He’s very inspiring. I can point him out to the other Marines and tell them he’s someone to aspire to surpass.”

Borunda shows no signs of slowing down either.

“I have no doubt that no matter what he sets out to do, he'll continue to succeed,” said Schultz.

All Marines can strive to better themselves on a daily basis. With Marines like Borunda paving the way, the Corps continues to expand its capabilities as the United States' elite fighting force.