MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- The Commandant and Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps visited here April 21-24, spending time in meetings and speaking with local Marines.
Gen. Michael W. Hagee, 33rd Commandant of the Marine Corps, along with more than fifteen three and four-star Marine generals and sergeants major spent several days discussing current military issues here during the Executive Off-Site.
Though the main purpose of the visit was the Executive Off-Site, Gen. Hagee found time to speak with the Marines during a field meet April 24.
"There are two types of Marines," said Gen. Hagee. "Those in Iraq, and those who want to be in Iraq."
After a loud war cry from the surrounding Marines, he added, "I am with you in wanting to be over there."
Having the commandant speak face-to-face with the Marines made quite an impression on many of the leathernecks here.
"It was motivating," said Sgt. Jasper Tapia, web development noncommissioned officer-in-charge here, "we hear about how important our jobs here in Albany are all the time, but coming from the commandant it was especially meaningful."
Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael, 14th Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, also addressed the Marines. He said he enjoys coming to Albany because he always leaves with high spirits after being with "the worlds finest".
McMichael said that there are plans currently in the works to give military schools accreditation that would help Marines if they wanted to get degrees or further their education. He also praised and thanked the Marines here for the job they do. Though they are "in the rear with the gear" the logisticians are one of the main reasons Marines are so successful on the battlefield.
"Everyday you get up, you do something to save a Marine's life," said McMichael. "Logisticians allow Marines to return home alive."
McMichael also addressed the standing debate of whether Marines now are as tough as those that came before them.
"We know we are passing on the [legacy of the Corps] to quality people," said McMichael. "It's not about the old Corps or the new Corps, it's about the Marine Corps."
Following their remarks, the Commandant and McMichael opened the floor to questions from Marines. The first question was concerning stop move/stop loss and when it would be lifted.
According to Gen. Hagee, the stop move/stop loss will be lifted gradually, depending on each Marine's individual situation. Gen. Hagee said the goal was to have the Marine Corps 'resettled' within 90 days, meaning back to 'normal' operating procedures and have the stop move/stop loss lifted sometime in the summer.
Gen. Hagee also said that McMichael will step down as the Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps June 26 to take a position with NATO in which he would help develop a noncommissioned officers corps in foreign armies. Sgt. Maj. John Estrada, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing sergeant major who is currently deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was selected to become the 15th Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps.
According to Tapia, getting the news directly from the current Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps instead of a newspaper article or television broadcast was encouraging.
"It was cool to have him verify that he will be leaving soon and that our sergeant major will be aiding in leading efforts to train NCOs of foreign militaries," said Tapia.
After the question and answer period, Marines were given the opportunity to speak and/or take pictures with the Commandant and the sergeant major while hamburgers and hotdogs were served. Marine Corps Community Services also provided free water bottles and Gatorade for the event.