AL ASAD, Iraq -- The Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Michael W. Hagee, visited Marines and sailors here July 25 accompanied by Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, sergeant major of the Marine Corps.
“I’m here for two reasons,” said Hagee. “I want to talk to the Marines and sailors and see how they’re doing and I want to ensure they’re maintaining operational situational awareness.”
Escorted by Brig. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr., 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) commanding general, and Sgt. Maj. Collin A. Cotterell, 2nd MAW (Forward) sergeant major, the Corps’ top leaders interacted with service members at the mess hall, an area of the base known as Rock Ridge, the base hospital, and Camp Ripper.
Marines and sailors from various units had breakfast with Hagee and Estrada. Corporal Lisa M. Carey, an intelligence analyst with the intelligence department of Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2, said having breakfast with the sergeant major of the Marine Corps was an awesome experience.
“To talk with the sergeant major and the commandant in a combat environment is probably one of the most memorable experiences I’ve ever had,” said Carey, a native of Homestead, Fla. “Meeting with some of the most experienced Marines in the Corps helps some of us refocus and remember why we’re here.”
After breakfast, members of Provisional Security Battalion and the Immediate Reaction and Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams of Marine Wing Support Squadron 271 hosted the commandant and the sergeant major outside their workspaces. Captain William J. Markham, commanding officer of Alpha Company, Provisional Security Battalion and Concord, N.C., native, showed Hagee some of the vehicles the unit uses to conduct convoy operations throughout the Al Anbar province.
A few injured Marines and U.S. Army soldiers had an opportunity to talk with Hagee and Estrada in the hospital and the two addressed Marines and sailors from Combat Logistics Battalion 2 in the courtyard. Later, the commandant and the sergeant major stopped by Camp Ripper to spend time with service members from Regimental Combat Team 2.
Some of the things Hagee talked about with representatives of the different units were the recent updates to his guidance, which lays out a vision for the 21st century Marine Corps. He also presented some of the Marines and sailors with challenge coins for their outstanding contributions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“There are many great young Marines and sailors here who are all very brave and this visit gives me an opportunity to thank them for the job they’re doing and the sacrifices they and their families are making,” said Hagee.
After visiting Al Asad for the better half of the day, Hagee and his party continued traveling throughout the II Marine Expeditionary Force's area of responsibility. The commandant and his staff were scheduled to visit other Marines and sailors in Iraq who are working tirelessly to establish a brighter future here.
- For more information about the Marines reported on in this story, please contact Sgt. Juan Vara by e-mail at email@example.com -