April 9, 2015 --
As Marines and guests prepared to take their seats during Sgt. Maj. Kevin Conboy’s retirement ceremony at the Major S. P. “Swede” Hansen Officers’ Lounge, April 9, they noticed a one-page ceremonial program in their chairs.
Conboy, who served as sergeant major, Headquarters Group, Marine Corps Logistics Command, said the program was designed to break the normal protocol and only had his command photo with no biography.
“Today, in my mind, is to recognize the countless Marines who spent time, energy and effort, developing me from the rank of private to sergeant major,” Conboy said.
He mentioned several of those Marines, who were in the audience, including his first corporal, best friend from the School of Infantry and the Marine who mentored him as a first sergeant.
“Today is their day,” he said. “I did not get here by myself.”
Lt. Col. Adrian Cleymans, executive officer, Marine Depot Maintenance Command, and retiring official, said it was an honor to retire Conboy and spoke of what made him a great sergeant major.
“The things that make Sergeant Major Conboy great are not the heroics and achievements we capture in awards, although his ribbons tell the tale of his many adventures in the world’s most dangerous places,” Cleymans said. “Those are inspiring to read, but the things that made him a great sergeant major are the 30 years he spent daily perfecting himself professionally and personally to become a better leader and role model for his Marines, and passing the Marine Corps’ ways, customs and courtesies, Corps’ legends and traditions onto two follow-on generations of Marines.”
Cleymans added that Conboy spent a lifetime embodying honor, courage, commitment and the Marine Corps’ values.
Conboy said it has been a privilege and an honor to have served three decades in the Marine Corps and feels blessed to have had Marine Corps Logistics Command as his last tour of duty in the Corps.
“This has provided me, an infantry Marine and a division type of guy, to be exposed to the government system and work with civilian-Marines, which has expanded my knowledge and education,” he said.
He also reflected on his career and highlighted his best tours of duty when he served with his first unit, 9th Marine Regiment, 3d Marine Division, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, and drill instructor duty at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina.
“9th Marine Regiment was home for me and it was a great unit with great people,” Conboy said. “You really felt like you belonged, and in those days, we did everything together. I was surrounded by positive male role models and the Marines in the unit took the time to help me mature. There will always be a tender spot in my heart for the 9th Marine Regiment.”
He noted training recruits was very rewarding.
“Every day when you come in to work, you walk into a ‘controlled chaos of motivation,’” he said. “Every day was a great day with the recruits.”
Conboy also served in several operational assignments including four combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan.
Comparing today’s Marine Corps to when he joined in June 1985 brought to mind three differences: training, education and development of junior Marines.
“It’s a much better Marine Corps today than it was thirty years ago,” Conboy said. “The Marines are better trained and educated. The Corps has focused on developing and improving its junior Marines. Today, the Corps is rearming, refitting and resetting for the challenges of the future.”
Before leaving the Corps’ active-duty ranks, he offered the following words of wisdom to his fellow Marines.
“Everything (you) do impacts the Corps, either positively or negatively,” he said. “The Marine Corps is on loan to (you). (You) don’t own it. The Marines from the past have allowed (you) to take it on loan and (you) are holding it for the Marines of the future.”
In regard to retiring, Conboy said, “I woke up one morning, long before now, and said 30 years is enough. It’s time to transition. There is a whole new chapter to discover.”
During retirement, he plans to devote time to his family as well as several hobbies including kayaking and building elaborate wooden model ships, a passion he shared with his late father.