MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Service members, families, Department of Defense civilians and a robot gathered together to honor Col. David S. “Steve” Heesacker, commanding officer of Marine Corps Engineer School, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, during a retirement ceremony at Courthouse Bay aboard the base, July 1. Heesacker is retiring from the Marine Corps after 32 years of active-duty service.
“Steve was someone I could always go to,” said Brig. Gen. Michael G. Dana, commanding general for 2nd Marine Logistics Group. “He is the most organized and smartest Marine I have ever met. Thanks for your service.”
With service members from the MCES companies lining the field, a 310SUG-V counter-improvised explosive device robot rolled out to the middle of the stage, awards “in hand.” Heesacker was presented the Legion of Merit medal for meritorious conduct in his performance of outstanding services and achievements.
President Barack Obama and Gen. James T. Conway, commandant of the Marine Corps, also wrote Heesacker letters of appreciation, thanking him for his outstanding leadership and service to the Marine Corps.
Heesacker thanked his family, friends, close colleagues and personnel he worked with at the MCES, and said his past 32 years were successful because of the different roles people played in his life and career.
“Marines don’t do much on their own and there are hundreds of people who have made a difference in my life,” said Heesacker. “Thank you so much.”
Heesacker said he enjoyed being part of the Marine Corps brotherhood and would always be proud of those who continue to serve.
“Nobody has to thank me,” said Heesacker. “I am thankful for the opportunity I got to serve here, but I’d like to thank those Marines who sleep on the ground, overseas, away from home … who keep our country safe. I’d like to thank the young Marines.”
As a final send-off to the legendary leader, the companies performed a pass in review where the robot, which carried its own guideon, was the last “honored guest” to bid farewell.
Maj. Wade Evans, director of instruction at MCES, has worked with Heesacker for just under two years. Evans said Heesacker was a great leader to both the instructors and students of MCES and did everything he could to take care of the service members’ needs.
“I believe Col. Heesacker, having been prior-enlisted, placed a high priority on taking care of the students and supporting his staff,” said Evans. “He was willing to delegate and gave us latitude to grow, but would give us guidance. He’s charismatic, compassionate and confident. It was an honor to work for him.”