Sergeant Major Estrada Lauds Marines for Service
By Cpl. Wilfredo Acosta
| | July 14, 2005
1ST MARINE CORPS DISTRICT HEADQUARTERS, GARDEN CITY, N.Y. --
Sergeant Major John L. Estrada, the 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, met with the Marines of 1st Marine Corps District and 2nd Battalion 25th Marine Regiment for a period of professional military education at Tun Tavern, the all-ranks club located at the 1st Marine Corps District Headquarters in Garden City, N.Y., July 14.
The PME was the last stop of the day for the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, who spent the majority of the day touring recruiting stations in New York and New Jersey. However, the schedule he faced earlier that day did not seem to detract from his enthusiasm as he greeted a room packed with more than 100 Marines and sailors who greeted him with a bellowing, “Hoorah!”
“It’s great to be here,” said Estrada with a wide-eyed grin. “I appreciate you for everything you are doing for our Corps. You are doing great things and I want to thank you for serving in our Corps during this very, very trying time in history.”
Estrada went on to praise the Marines of 1st MCD and 2/25 for the vital role the two units each play as recruiters and reservists while our nation is at war.
“Our recruiters, next to Marines in combat, have the toughest job in the Marine Corps,” said Estrada. I know [recruiting is] tough all across the nation. But, from what I’ve seen today in my brief visits to a few of your stations, Marines are in the fight. They are very optimistic and they’re going to turn this thing around.”
Estrada’s statements came from first-hand information he gathered during his visits with recruiting stations earlier that day.
As a former sergeant major of Recruiting Station Sacramento, Calif., Estrada is familiar with the challenges many Marine recruiters are facing. During a visit to Recruiting Substation Flatbush in Brooklyn, N.Y., he picked up the phone and called a poolee. During the conversation, Estrada congratulated the young Marine hopeful on his decision to join the Few and the Proud. He also took time to ask the young man about his experience as a poolee and his relationship with his recruiter. Estrada told his fellow recruiters that he makes similar calls from recruiting stations around the country to encourage young applicants and poolees while ensuring the recruiters are doing everything within their power to combat pool attrition.
“I want you to rest assure that your commandant and I are very much engaged in getting you the support to makes you successful out here on recruiting duty because, again, what you do out here strikes at the very existence of the Marine Corps,” said Estrada. “If you can’t do your job we won’t have a corps down the road.”
However, Estrada did not deny the war’s adverse affect on recruiting. Instead, he addressed it and offered some advise on how to combat it as well as how he believes the Marine Corps will continue to thrive regardless.
“I hear the stories of the moms and dads who are saying, ‘I don’t mind my kid serving right now, but I’m not ready for my kid to go to Iraq or Afghanistan’ …But, [Marine recruiters] are still finding those few, great individuals with what I call that ‘special mindset’ to be Marines. All of you here are special because we think differently; we have that Marine mindset … for those of you out recruiting, I ask that you continue to do it only one way, which is the right way. We’re not going to cut corners, or compromise our standard. We are going to keep them high.”
Estrada also extended his appreciation to all of the Marines at 1st MCD who serve in support billets for the recruiting effort. He also did not overlook the Marines reservists and Corpsmen in the audience. He thanked them personally for the sacrifices they and their families make while serving overseas during deployments.
“[Marine reservists] have a tough job,” said Estrada. “We have activated about 95 percent of our reserve Marines … 95-97 percent of them have served in either [Operation Iraqi Freedom] or [Operation Enduring Freedom] … No other service can activate their units as quickly as we activate our reserve units, [which is] usually within seven to ten days.”
The sergeant major of the Marine Corps continued to stress the difference each Marine makes while serving during the War on Terror by giving specific examples.
“Those young Marines that you recruit and train were recently in Fallujah,” Estrada said. “In November they were told to go ahead and take the city.”
Estrada then sited the rhetoric of skeptics who believed the Marines would not be able to achieve such a task.
“What happened?” Estrada rhetorically asked. “Your fellow Marines, and probably some of you here in this room …you stormed through Fallujah and in less than two weeks you took the city.You and your fellow Marines made it that way,” he said. “Each of you, by serving, has made a positive difference in the lives of many. You have given those people hope.”