New Cumberland, PA --
New Cumberland, Pennsylvania— After 30 years of faithful service to his country and the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Joseph C. Breze stood before an assembly of his closest friends and family to celebrate the conclusion of this chapter in his career.
Breze relinquished his post as the sergeant major of 4th Marine Corps District and retired during a post and relief ceremony, Feb. 6, at the Defense Distribution Center Susquehanna in New Cumberland, Pennsylvania. Sgt.Maj. Mark F. Gonzales will take up the duties of district sergeant major in his place.
Breze’s duties included acting as the senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer of the district which is comprised of approximately 850 Marines and civilians. In the course of that duty, he acted as a bridge between enlisted Marine and commissioned Marine; and between Marine and civilian.
Breze, a Pittsburg, Pennsylvania native, enlisted in the Marine Corps in April 1985.
“I walked into the recruiters offices for all the branches,” said Breze. “I asked what the hardest part of their branch was and my (Marine) recruiter said, ‘Wearing the uniform.’ That made my mind up that I wanted to be a Marine.”
Upon completion of basic training, Breze was assigned to Alpha Company, 3rd Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii. While there he served as a reconnaissance scout.
Reconnaissance Marines gather intelligence in hostile or unfriendly territory, normally operate in small groups and train in various types of insertion and extraction methods to accomplish their missions.
Breze reenlisted at every opportunity throughout his career in military service, eventually serving in multiple campaigns around the world. In 1989, Breze reported to 1st Force Reconnaissance Company, 1st Surveillance, Reconnaissance, and Intelligence Group Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California. While there he deployed for Operation Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Operation Restore Hope and he participated in the initial landing in Somalia in 1992.
In 1996, Breze reported to 1st Force Recon Company, I Marine Expeditionary Force at MCB Camp Pendleton, and in 2004, he deployed to Iraq for Operation Iraqi Freedom II. He transferred to Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment in 2005 as the company first sergeant under then, Capt. Timothy Powledge.
“He always had an infectious enthusiasm, can do attitude and was an inspiration,” said Powledge, currently the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. “When the water got heavy, I had Joe right there to take over and carry it on.”
Since 2007, Breze has been serving as a senior enlisted advisor to various units within Marine Corps Recruiting Command.
“I’ve been extremely fortunate to benefit from his wisdom and advice,” said Col. John A. Bolt, the commanding officer of 4MCD. “The glass is always half full with him, which has been a big source of inspiration for me.”
“I want to be remembered as the sergeant major that was out and about with the Marines, talking to them and not sitting behind the desk,” said Breze.
Now retired, Breze plans on moving to his home to Pittsburg, and settling down with his wife and two girls.