MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. -- It is not every day the highest-ranking enlisted Marine in the Corps travels to Beaufort. Such a visit allows the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps to communicate directly with his Marines and interact with them in their everyday environment.
Sgt. Maj. John Estrada, the 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, addressed the Marines and sailors here on issues concerning quality of life, Marine Corps leadership, safety, moral courage, retention, promotion opportunities, what’s new in the Marine Corps and the need to always be prepared for deployment over his two-day visit Aug. 29-30.
“The purpose of my visit to Fightertown is show my appreciation for the hard work and sacrifices all of the Marines here make for the Marine Corps,” Estrada said.
The other main focus of Estrada’s visit was to get feedback from the Marines in the operational forces, according to Sgt. Maj. John McGovern, the Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 sergeant major.
“It was a great opportunity for all of the Marines on the Air Station to see the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps and to hear what he had to say, and have a chance to voice their own concerns to him,” McGovern said.
The Air Station Sergeant Major, Sgt. Maj. Anthony Franks agreed.
“Most definitely the sergeant major’s visit here was a success,” Franks said. “He received the feedback he wanted from the questions he asked.”
The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps uses the feedback to help advise the Corps’ leaders on a myriad of issues.
“I also wanted to find out what their concerns are and what I can do to help influence the policies and decisions to better support them in the big picture,” Estrada said.
Every time Estrada spoke to a squadron he recognized two Marines for outstanding achievements by presenting them with a Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps coin.
“It was very motivating to be recognized in front of my squadron and to be given a coin by Sergeant Major Estrada,” said Cpl. Jacob Gray, a Crusaders aviation ordnance technician who was meritoriously promoted to his current rank recently.
“I think it’s outstanding for the Sergeant Major to recognize them, it really shows the quality of all the Marines we have in the Crusaders,” McGovern said.
The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps also emphasized that safety is paramount during his visit.
“Every time we lose a Marine due to a serious injury or they get killed because of reckless behavior out in town it’s degrading the combat capability of his or her unit,” Estrada said. “When that Marine is gone somebody else has to pick up the slack.”
Marines can prevent such behavior with moral courage to catch that other Marine and correct him or her when they are doing something potentially harmful, according to Estrada.
Estrada considered his visit a success.
“I enjoyed my visit; anytime I get to speak with Marines and hear what their concerns are it’s a success,” Estrada said. “I take away a few things with me that I pick up here, it could help me influence corrective action.”