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U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Craig Larkin, the Marine Aircraft Group 36 Headquarters career planner, meritoriously promotes to the rank of gunnery sergeant on Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 22, 2023. Larkin promoted as the recipient of the 2023 Career Planner of the Year Award. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sav Ford)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Sav Ford

2023 Career Planner of the Year

11 Jan 2024 | Lance Cpl. Sav Ford 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

“I was going to get out of the Marine Corps after completing my initial contract,” said Staff Sgt., now Gunnery Sgt., Craig Larkin. “While I enjoyed my time in that job [as a field artillery cannoneer] and had some fantastic experiences, I was ready for a change and thought getting out would be the only option.” After further deliberation, however, another option presented itself. Larkin discovered the Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) of career planner, where he felt he could positively impact lives on a larger scale than he had before. Larkin thrived on this new career path, leading him to earn the 2023 Career Planner of the Year Award.

Throughout his time as a career planner, Larkin focused on making a difference in Marines’ lives. Before assisting each Marine, he asks himself, "if I were in their shoes, what kind of service or result would I want?” He then views his work through the lens of a "mid-fire-mission,” a habit developed during his time in artillery and one that serves him to this day. This informs how he handles each deadline, package, and essential information for Marines and their commands, meticulously tailoring feedback to the individual so that they and their families are set up for success.​

"Career Planners are like a ‘walking Google’ for the Marine Corps,” Gunnery Sgt. Craig Larkin, 2023 Career Planner of the Year

“Career Planners are like a ‘walking Google’ for the Marine Corps,” Larkin said of the MOS, “specifically through enlisted retention, career development, and unique opportunities.” There are nearly 500 career planners supporting all enlisted forces, each tasked with executing multiple retention campaign plans and handling unit requirements. They also function as guides for a Marine’s career. They are subject matter experts on reenlistment, extensions, lateral moves, enlisted to officer programs, increasing competitiveness, and many screenable billets such as recruiting, drill instructor, combat instructor, Marine security guard, and combat instructor. Marines considering a different path often consult career planners for advice; Larkin himself is a testament to that.

2023 Career Planner of the Year Photo by Lance Cpl. Sav Ford
U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Craig Larkin, the Marine Aircraft Group 36 Headquarters career planner, meritoriously promotes to the rank of gunnery sergeant on Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, Dec. 22, 2023. Larkin promoted as the recipient of the 2023 Career Planner of the Year Award. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Sav Ford)

In a statement to other career planners, Larkin expressed, “I genuinely appreciate every one of you. Even if we only had a few interactions in the past, note that you left your impact on me, and this award is a testament to your influence. This job is highly demanding; remember why you lateral moved over. You asked for this smoke (Master Gunnery Sgt. Morley, Andy, II MEF career planner). While times may get tough, think about the individual Marines you're responsible for. They and their families are counting on you and need you. Some days may require you to work later, even going to the field or deploying, but it is what the Marines and commands need. Continuously think about how you can best support the Marines in your command. The Marine Corps and this MOS will continue challenging you and testing your resiliency. Please don't be afraid to speak up when you're struggling; we are here for you. Along with your direct leadership at your command, there are MSC and SNCOIC career planners for a reason: to help lead, mentor, and care for you. Thank you for all that you do.”


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