The nation’s top enlisted Marine stressed the importance of the Recruiting Command, Mobilization Command and Marine Forces Reserve during a two-day visit to the Kansas City area Oct. 5.
Sergeant Maj. John L. Estrada, the 15th sergeant major of the Marine Corps, said that although they are often underappreciated these three units play a vital role in the Global War on Terrorism.
“Each and every one of you play a vital role in the war on terrorism,” said Estrada, to a group of more than 100 Marines from 9th Marine Corps District, Mobilization Command and 24th Marines. “If you weren’t doing your part those Marines around the world couldn’t do their job effectively.”
Estrada’s initial comments commended both active-duty and reserve Marines for their reflection of readiness proven since the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
“We showed the world that we are a true force in readiness,” said Estrada, who believes the attack’s emotional scarring on the American psyche and the military’s rapid response to our attackers inspired an upswing in patriotism. “Without the [reservists] we could not do what we are doing right now. They are performing magnificently right alongside of the active duty Marines.”
The men and women who recruit our war fighters are just as important to the Corps’ continued success according to Estrada.
“Next to combat, recruiting is the toughest job in the Marine Corps,” said Estrada, who has a storied history within the recruiting command, serving in both the Eastern and Western Recruiting Regions. “Being a drill instructor is a demanding job, but the DI has a schedule. Recruiters, on the other hand, are on their own.”
Thanks to the hard work and long hours of its recruiters, the 9th MCD accomplished its fiscal year recruiting mission just prior to the sergeant major’s visit. Estrada was pleased with the District’s efficiency even as the recruiting world grows more difficult.
“You are serving in a time when most Americans are not jumping up and down to serve,” said Estrada. “They know that we go right to the fight, and we will go there quickly.”
Estrada’s speech turned toward heroics as he spoke of his visits to Afghanistan and Iraq. A commanding tone overtook his words, but he did not stumble through the arranged words of a command message. He spoke from the heart.
“When visiting young Marines in Falusia, they said, ‘Sergeant Major, we’re doing exactly what we signed up for,’” said Estrada. “Our Marines are tired; some are on their third combat tour. It’s going to be a challenge to retain those NCOs. But none of them are complaining.”
Estrada remembered another example of sacrifice without complaint. While visiting wounded Marines at a hospital, some missing limbs and some blind, Estrada said that the Marines never complained or showed anger. They just wanted to “finish what they started.”