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Community bids farewell to master guns­ after 30 years

4 Nov 2010 | Marti Gatlin, Public Affairs Specialist

The Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany community bid farewell to a Marine Corps Logistics Command Marine during a “bittersweet” retirement ceremony, Friday.

Marines, civilian-Marines and family members rendered accolades and recounted comical memories to Master Gunnery Sgt. Elliot Martin, adjutant chief, LOGCOM, for his 30 years of dedicated service to the Corps and the nation.

Martin received a Meritorious Service Medal, gold star in lieu of a second award; certificate of retirement; letters of appreciation from the president of the United States; Gen. James T. Conway, former Commandant of the Marine Corps; Sgt. Maj. Carlton W. Kent, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, along with a national ensign.

Martin’s wife, Sheila, received a certificate of appreciation.

“Thank you for your service to our country and our Corps,” Maj. Gen. James A. Kessler, commanding general, LOGCOM, said in a statement that was read during the ceremony. “Your presence will have a long and lasting impact. The countless number of Marines with whom you have interacted have benefitted by your leadership.”

Col. Ben Braden, chief of staff, LOGCOM, characterized Martin as a “poster Marine,” an expert in his field and a top leader of the Corps.

“The master gunnery sergeant has done exactly what’s in our Marine Corps Hymn - every clime and place,” he said. “He’s been in every visible post the Marine Corps has: headquarters, security guard, reserve forces. If it was hard, he was the first one there. Not only did he go there, but he became an instructor for others to follow.”

The chief of staff called the retirement ceremony bittersweet.

“It’s bitter because we’re losing one of the Marine Corps’ very best, but it’s sweet because I know Elliot has trained everybody behind him (in formation) and they’re ready for their combat test because he prepared them,” Braden said. “It’s also bitter that we’re losing 30 years of experience here today, but it’s sweet when the master gunnery sergeant walks off this field with his head held high and knows thousands of Marines he has touched and trained. He knows with confidence the Corps is going to be able to move on because he served us.”

Martin joined the Marine Corps when he was 28 years old, and retired Lt. Col. Bruce Judge, who served with Martin, spoke about the Marine’s service to many youth in a letter that was read during the ceremony.

“I remember you joined the Marine Corps three days after your 15th high school reunion,” Judge said. “From private to master gunnery sergeant, rarely have so many Marines been worn out by one man for such an extended period of time. These devil dogs, some of whom are young enough to be your grandkids, will always affectionately remember you by the Marine Corps’ nickname you so deservedly earned 28 years ago - ‘Pops.’”

Judge added in his letter that Martin pre-dated cell phones, computers and Baskin and Robbins ice cream.

Martin thanked his family members for their support and his wife for standing by his side during his 30 years in uniform.

“As no good man travels alone, no successful Marine makes it alone,” the more than 6 feet tall Marine said. “In addition to my efforts these past 30 years, I’ve had a sustained effort from some of the finest Marines you could ever ask for under my charge. I’ve also been blessed from the tutelage and mentorship of some good officers and staff noncommissioned officers. From the moment my retirement was approved, I took the time and sought out each of those Marines, and if they were still around, I not only extended an invitation to be here, but more importantly, let them know their efforts played a pivotal role in my career and being where I am today.”

The Upper Marlboro, Md., native added he hoped the Marines he’s mentored learned from observing his work ethic.

“I really hope you take (with you) the way I’ve conducted myself, how I’ve led by example and how I’ve cared for Marines,” Martin said.

He emphasized to Marines standing in formation to take care of the Corps’ customs.

“(President) Ronald Reagan once said ‘Some people go an entire lifetime wondering if they’ve ever made a difference. Marines don’t have that problem,’” Martin said. “It’s been said that America doesn’t need a Marine Corps, America wants a Marine Corps, and believe me, we’ve had many an adversary since 1775 (who) wished America didn’t have a Corps. Marines, you must continue to do those things that our Corps and our country expect of you. Continue to adhere to our core values of honor, courage and commitment and I charge you to guard our Corps and its traditions with fervency and zeal.”

Following his retirement, Martin said he’s scheduled to take over the Naval Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program at North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Ga.

Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany