Recruiting's commanding general becomes senior ranking active duty African American Marine
By Cpl. T. J. Kaemmerer
| Marine Corps Recruiting Command | October 07, 2005
MARINE CORPS RECRUITING COMMAND, QUANTICO, Va. --
The Commanding General of Marine Corps Recruiting Command, Maj. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin, was frocked to his current rank Oct. 7 during a ceremony held here at Geiger Hall.
The Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Michael W. Hagee, oversaw the frocking and reaffirmed Gaskin's commitment as a leader of Marines.
"His current job is one of the most challenging jobs in the Marine Corps and Walt has done great things here," Hagee said. "I could not be more excited to promote Walt Gaskin to the rank of major general and see him continue to serve and lead in the Marine Corps for years to come."
Along with allowing him to continue leading from the front, Gaskin's promotion makes him the senior ranking active duty African American Marine. However, this isn't the first time his heritage has been an important landmark in life.
Dating back to his teenage years, Gaskin was part of the first integrated class of Savannah High School in Savannah, Ga. Despite the social challenges he faced, Gaskin established himself as a leader early on in life. He excelled academically, played sports and was a member of the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. Upon graduation, he decided to enroll in the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Scholarship Program at Savannah State University where he majored in history.
According to Gaskin, he then chose to join the Marine Corps because he sought to challenge himself to be the best, and that was the reputation the Marines had.
"My parents had mixed emotions when I decided to join the Marine Corps," he said. "Vietnam was raging on. There was definitely some apprehension, but at graduation they were extremely proud and they knew if I had to go to war, they wanted it to be with the Marines."
One of the things Gaskin looked forward to when he was commissioned in June of 1974 was the chance to lead Marines.
He still remembers a recruiting advertisement he'd read before joining the Corps, which likened a company of Marines to a Fortune 500 business.
"Own your own company by age 26," he remembered. "It was a play on words for becoming a company commander. I wanted to know if I could measure up, so I joined the very best, the Marine Corps."
Gaskin did 'measure up' and reached his goal, having led Marines in numerous commands since being commissioned.
"I've had some great commands, but the BLT (Battalion Landing Team) has been the most memorable," the 54-year-old leader said. "I had them in combat. We deployed into several hostile areas and I was closest to my Marines there."
Gaskin, while leading the Marines of MCRC, now plays an important role in molding the future of the Marine Corps by "giving the young men and women of America the opportunity to become Marines."
Gaskin explained how honored he is to be a part of the recruiting command, where he can see the transformation of those young men and women. Challenging as his job is, he said he would meet recruiting needs in developing the world's premier fighting force by "making sure recruiters have all the tools needed to deliver the Marine Corps message and continue recruiting the best the nation has to offer."
The Marine Corps successfully accomplished its recruiting goal for fiscal year 2005 by shipping 38,882 applicants to recruit training. In fiscal year 2006 the recruiting command's mission is to ship 38,980 applicants to recruit training.