MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – --
While one Marine said goodbye to active duty service, another started a new chapter of his mili¬tary career in a relief and appointment ceremony at the Goettge Memorial Field House aboard Camp Lejeune, March 28.
Sgt. Major Ernest K. Hoopii relinquished com¬mand as sergeant major of Marine Corps Installa¬tions East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune to Sgt. Maj. Paul A. Berry after 30 years of active duty service.
“We celebrated the end of a career and a new start for a good friend of mine,” said Hoopii.
It was an exciting moment for Berry, who comes to MCIEAST after a year in Afghanistan supporting Operation Enduring
Freedom as the sergeant major of II Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward).
“I would have never thought I would end up in this position,” said Berry.
It was a surprise when the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, announced he had been selected as the senior enlisted Marine of MCIEAST installations.
“It’s very humbling,” Berry said. “It’s a great honor; I’m excited.”
Berry recalled spending lunch breaks as a lance corporal playing basketball at the field house, the same place where
Hoopii passed him the noncom¬missioned officer’s sword, and with it the title of sergeant major of MCIEAST.
Berry looks forward to continuing Hoopii’s lega¬cy and meeting any challenges that come his way.
“I have been welcomed with open arms,” said Berry. “I’m very impressed (with MCIEAST Camp Lejeune personnel). There is a strong sense of family and team effort. Those intangible traits are key to any organization or command.”
Berry looks forward to supporting the Marines in their day-to-day mission throughout the installations.
“Every Marine, sailor and civilian employee contributes daily to the success of Marine Corps In¬stallations East – MCB Camp Lejeune,” said Berry. “I want to make sure we understand and appreciate their unit’s contributions, this unit’s mission.”
Hoopii plans to spend some time decompress¬ing at home, taking care of repairs throughout his house and starting a garden before rejoining the workforce. He plans to find work supporting Marines.
“I love it here,” said Hoopii. “I’ve come to love North Carolina. I love the people here. We’re going to make this place our home.”
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