Photo Information

AL ASAD, Iraq ? General Michael Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, talks with Sgt. Alain Alba during breakfast at Al Asad, Sept. 25. Hagee and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, John L. Estrada, came to Al Asad during a visit to the Marine Corps area of responsibility in Iraq.

Photo by Cpl. James D. Hamel

CMC, SMMC visit warriors on front

25 Sep 2005 | Cpl. James D. Hamel

General Michael Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada, 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, visited Al Asad, Iraq, Sept. 25.

The two leaders’ visit brought them to other Marine Corps installations throughout the Al Anbar province, as they checked on their Marines fighting the War on Terror.

After arriving in Al Asad, the two ate an early morning breakfast with Marines handpicked for excellence from the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Fwd). 

At the end of the breakfast, Estrada announced and recognized the 2nd MAW (Fwd), Marine of the Quarter, Lance Cpl. Andrew Pendracki, from 2nd MAW (Fwd) combat camera, and Cpl. Deborah L. Myatt, the 2nd MAW (Fwd) noncommissioned officer of the quarter, from the administration office of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 764.

Corporal James F. Aguilar, the Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron 2 NCO of the quarter and Camden, NJ, native, said the breakfast offered a unique opportunity to pick the brain of the most senior Marine in the Corps.

“It was interesting to sit there and hear his thoughts about the Marine Corps and Iraq,” he said.  “Having him ask us what we thought was pretty cool.  It’s pretty humbling sitting across from all those stars.”

After leaving the dining facility, Hagee and Estrada presided over a town hall meeting for Marines and Sailors from Al Asad.

“Anytime I get to come to (this area of responsibility), it is the highlight of my time as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps,” Estrada told the assembled crowd.  “This is where you all are doing Marine Corps things.  This is why you signed up.”

Estrada thanked those who had served multiple tours in Iraq, and thanked the leaders of Marines especially.
“I always say this, the Marines of today are better than ever,” he said.  “(Even war veterans) look at you as setting a new standard.”

The commandant asked the Marines how they were doing, and they replied in unison, “Ooh-Rah.”
“That’s right,” he told them.  “You’re right, you all are doing well.  I’m really proud of you.”

The commandant fielded questions about the future of Marine Corps’ aviation assets, including the CH-46 and MV-22 osprey.

Hagee also told the Marines that when he meets leaders from other military services, they always compliment the quality of individual  Marines.

“They tell me one thing, ‘we want to be just like you,’” he said.  “You all set the professional standard for the warrior class.”

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