May 29, 2014 --
Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany’s highest enlisted Marine relinquished authority to his successor in a Relief and Appointment Ceremony at Schmid Field here, May 23.
Sgt. Maj. Kenneth Agee relieved Sgt. Maj. Conrad Potts of his post as MCLB Albany’s senior enlisted Marine in front of Marines, civilian-Marines, community dignitaries, friends and their families.
Agee’s last assignment was with 6th Marine Corps District serving as the sergeant major for Recruiting Station Jacksonville, Florida.
“(My family and I) are glad to be members of MCLB (Albany),” Agee, a native of Lakeland, Florida, said. “I look forward to joining the team on the base and working with the command.”
Potts served as MCLB Albany’s sergeant major since October 2011 and retired in a ceremony immediately following the Relief and Appointment Ceremony.
“It’s surreal,” Potts said. “It hasn’t really hit me yet. My wife told me this morning it probably won’t hit you until you realize that you’re not putting on that uniform anymore. Today, I got to put it on, I’ll take it off, but I won’t ever put it back on (officially) after this stage.”
In a symbolic transfer of senior staff noncommissioned officer authority, Col. Don Davis, commanding officer, MCLB Albany, took a noncommissioned officer’s sword from Potts and handed it to Agee, his new senior enlisted advisor.
According to the Marine Corps Drill and Ceremonies Manual, passing of the sword dates back to 1875 when the noncommissioned and staff noncommissioned officers carried the noncommissioned officer sword as a symbol of their ability and prestige as enlisted leaders of the Marine Corps.
The sergeant major, as the senior enlisted leader and adviser, is the keeper of traditions for his/her unit.
The passing of the sword of office signifies the transfer of this sacred trust from one sergeant major to another.
According to Marine Corps tradition, the sword is the same weapon, with only minor alterations, that is carried in the Marine parade formations by senior noncommissioned officers of the Marine Corps today.
In the early days of the Corps when advancement was slow, the senior noncommissioned officers represented many years of service and their positions in the Corps carried great prestige. In the barracks or field, their prerogatives were unquestioned.
Their right to carry such an important emblem was a privilege that, in the eyes of the lower ranks, personified the sergeant major’s primary duty - to lead, not shoot.
The sword thus continues as the personification of military traditions and has been entrusted to those most responsible for maintaining it.
While its use is now symbolic and limited by regulations to when in charge of troops at ceremonial occasions, the sword is part of a long, intangible esprit de corps’ which makes the Marine of today part of that long-honored muster toll, on which will be found names like Sgt. Maj. John H. Quick and Master Gunnery Sgt. Leland Diamond.
The passing of the sword between Potts and Agee signifies the transfer of the most sacred position.