MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
For the last three years, many of Sgt. Maj. Ernest K. Hoopii’s mornings have begun watching colors rise aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune’s headquarters building.
Those moments are some of the memories, the sergeant major of Marine Corps Installations East - MCB Camp Lejeune values most as he looks forward to a new phase in his life, said Hoopii.
After 30 years in the Marine Corps, Hoopii is set to retire and pass his post to Sgt. Maj. Paul A. Berry in a Relief and Appointment Ceremony March 28 at the Goettge Memorial Field House aboard the base.
Many of his favorite moments embody a love of Corps and country. Some of his favorite moments include Camp Lejeune’s Joint Daytime ceremonies, Marine Corps balls and meeting junior Marines and their families.
“We have a great community,” said Hoopii. “You really don’t appreciate it until you return from another country and you see people waving flags and welcoming you home. That’s when you see how beautiful this community really is.”
Hoopii has served the community, volunteering at the USO’s No Dough dinners, spending time with and serving food to service members, supported Toys for Tots and the Combined Federal Campaign among other causes close to the Marine Corps and our community.
A sense of civic duty is important to Hoopii, who looks forward to volunteering after his retirement and encourages service members to embrace the communities they encounter throughout their careers.
“Reach out and be a part of the success of your local community,” said Hoopii. “Get engaged, and I’m not talking about getting married. Be a part of the solution and not the problem.”
During his career, he participated in military operations throughout America, Europe and Africa. He deployed in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. He also deployed with the 24th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units.
Hoopii is proud of many difficult assignments he was able to accomplish throughout the years.
“There are a lot of things I’m proud of,” said Hoopii. “I’m proud I had the opportunity to become a Marine. I’m proud of the fact I have two sons who are Marines. We are a Marine family. My wife is a family readiness officer and she takes care of Marines and their families as well.”
Hoopii’s immediate family is intimately involved in the Marine Corps, but he considers all Marines an extension of his family and looks forward to spending his retirement connected to the Marine Corps through volunteer opportunities.
“It’s been a great career,” said Hoopii. “I would do it all over again. It’s been the best thing I’ve ever done. I have met the best people in the world, and they all wore the Marine Corps uniform.”
Hoopii leaves Berry with words of advice as he prepares to hand off his duties.
“Have fun,” said Hoopii. “This is a great job. You have a great commander and a great staff. You couldn’t be at a better place at this time of your life.”
Berry looks forward to working with the Marines, sailors and civilians of the installation, as well as Jacksonville and the outlying communities.
“Every Marine, sailor and civilian employee contributes daily to the success of Marine Corps Installations East - MCB Camp Lejeune,” said Berry. “I want to make sure we understand and appreciate their contributions to this unit’s mission.”
Berry comes to Marine Corps Installations East - MCB Camp Lejeune after serving as sergeant major of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
“It’s an honor and a privilege to follow in (Hoopii’s) footsteps,” said Berry. “I hope to build upon the success of Sergeant Major Hoopii.”
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