MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The sword has been passed. Two accomplished sergeants major came together in a relief and appointment ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, March 23, exchanging the time-honored billet of sergeant major for Marine Corps Installations East.
Sgt. Maj. Robert G. VanOostrom, who served as sergeant major for Marine Corps Installations East from August 2009 to March 2012, handed over the Sword of Office to Sgt. Maj. Ernest K. Hoopii, the new sergeant major for MCIEAST. VanOostrom is slated to be appointed the new sergeant major of II Marine Expeditionary Force next week.
VanOostrom received the Legion of Merit from President Obama for his outstanding leadership and exceptional performance as the sergeant major of MCIEAST. He also supported a geographically dispersed command responsible for seven Marine Corps installations which includes more than 160,000 personnel.
“I take all his counsel to heart,” said Brig Gen. Thomas A. Gorry, commanding general, MCIEAST. “Because I know his sincere, professional advice is invaluable to me as I make decisions that affect the entire command. I’m a better Marine Corps officer and a better Marine for having served with him.”
While VanOostrom’s list of accomplishments at MCIEAST are expansive, including the reinvigoration of professional development programs and active engagement with units serving on operational fronts, he maintained steadfast admiration for the daily sacrifices of the Marines under his charge.
“It’s eye watering what they do on a daily basis, often not seen,” said VanOostrom. “To tell them what a great job they did is to remember that there is no greater service than to serve someone else.”
VanOostrom thanked the Marines of MCIEAST for their work in providing vital support to operational forces, allowing them to succeed in carrying out the mission of the Marine Corps.
“I want to recognize Sgt. Maj. VanOostrom for all that he has done during his service,” said Hoopii. “I will do my best to continue to fulfill that billet.”
Hoopii turned to Gorry and reaffirmed his dedication to the command as the most senior enlisted advisor. He also thanked the many sergeants major who helped lay the foundation of leadership that he now turns to for support in his new billet.
Gorry says he looks forward to the contributions of Hoopii, whose recent experience in Afghanistan and enthusiasm for his new post offer great promise for MCIEAST.