Haiti: Senior Enlisted visits troops

12 May 2004 | Staff Sgt. Timothy S. Edwards

The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps took time out of his busy schedule May 11 to speak with Marines deployed here in support of Operation Secure Tomorrow.During his brief visit, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada made a tour of the city to thank as many of the Marines and sailors from Combined Joint Task Force – Haiti and Marine Air Ground Task Force – 8 as possible for their service.“The most important reason for me to talk with you today,” Estrada said, addressing each assembly of Marines and sailors on his tour, “is to thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do down here. That is why I have come.“I thank you for serving during this time in our nation’s history,” he continued. “Not many people are volunteering to serve our country right now, but you are”The sergeant major told the Marines, the fact that they are volunteering to serve is very important during this time in American history.“A lot of people (in the U.S.) say they don’t mind serving, but they don’t want to serve right now. They want to wait until things cool down a little bit,” he explained.“But you are serving during this very dangerous time. You are doing this knowing that most of you will be in harm’s way. That is why you joined the Marine Corps… that’s why I joined nearly 30 years ago. I wanted to go to combat and I wanted to see the world. That’s why you joined.”According to Estrada, it takes a special person to serve during this time and that they are recognized by America as a whole. “Your fellow Marines, those who have served before you, the politicians and the other services love you,” Estrada declared. “They are all proud of what you are doing.”The American people aren’t the only ones proud of the accomplishment of this generation of Marines.“When we hear how good you are doing,” Estrada said, “we just smile and say ‘hey we have a bunch of great warriors’ because the commandant and I know how good you are. We have a great Marine Corps and a great bunch of Marines and sailors.”The credit for the Corps’ accomplishments rest squarely on the shoulders of the Marines, he continued.“Why do we have the best bunch of Marines and sailors serving together, it is because we have the very best of our society… you.“We are successful because of our leadership. The leadership we have in our officer ranks, Staff (Noncommissioned Officer) ranks and our enlisted ranks is why we are successful. We could have the best weapons and best equipment, but if we didn’t have great leaders we wouldn’t have the great Corps,” Estrada explained.“I want to thank the Staff NCOs, the enlisted Marines and NCOs. The NCOs are the ones that make it happen. They are the ones making it happen right now in Iraq.”During each of his talks, the sergeant major also updated the Marines about the activities of their brothers and sisters in the Corps.The Marine Corps has just sent about 2,500 personnel to Afghanistan, Estrada said. “We have a lot of Marines up there actively involved in combat operations.” He continued by explaining that even though Iraq is still a very dangerous place, things are going well there. “It is a very dangerous place, it is very dangerous in the south but we have everything under control. Marines are performing magnificently, just like you have here.”He followed this by addressing concerns about future deployments and rotations.“The commandant is very adamant that we continue with the seven month rotations in the Corps. We have been asked why can’t we do the one-year rotations. Right now the only ones going to be doing the one-year rotations are the headquarters groups. We will continue to rotate our battalions and squadrons every seven months.”“I think it is a good idea, because it puts less of a strain on a person, especially if they are married and have children,” said Lance Cpl. Jonathan A. Marcengill, a CJTF-Haiti postal clerk. “They won’t have to be away from home for too long.”At each of his stops he ended his speech with the same message, answered questions and took group photos with the Marines before moving to the next Marine firm base. “I want to thank you again for serving and being on of the few, the proud, obviously the Marines, the best fighting force in the whole world. I am proud of you.”