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4th Marine Corps District

Marine Corps Recruiting Command

Recruiting Station Frederick’s sergeant major passes the torch

By Sgt. Anthony Kirby | 4th Marine Corps District | March 31, 2015


  Sgt. Maj. William E. Sweeney relinquished his post at Marine Corps Recruiting Station Frederick to Sgt. Maj. Alonzo P. Baxter during a relief and appointment ceremony March 26 at Fort Detrick, Maryland.        

       Sweeney, a Loveland, Colorado native, graduated recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in April 1989. Following, he attended the School of Infantry at Camp Pendleton, California, where he was assigned the military occupational specialty of anti-tank assaultman.

       In 2001, Sweeney was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, as the company gunnery sergeant and company first sergeant for Company G. He participated in combat operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and with the 24th Marine Expeditionary unit during his tour. He was promoted to the rank of first sergeant in October 2005.

       He executed orders to be RS Frederick’s sergeant major in May 2012. For nearly three years, he worked to drive and inspire the Marines of the RS. Sweeney recognized the dedication the Marines under his charge showed.

       “These are the hardest working Marines in the Marine Corps,” said Sweeney. “I don’t care what MOS you came from or what job you’re going to. The canvassing recruiter who’s out there working to make sure all of us are successful has the hardest job in the Marine Corps. It always has been and always will be.”

       Just as he recognized his Marines’ hard work, Sweeney was praised for his dedication.

       “Sergeant Major Sweeney epitomizes professionalism, sound character, selflessness, and displayed a deep and lasting commitment to his Marines with an unparalleled devotion to duty, making us all better,” said Maj. Paul B. Bock, commanding officer of RS Frederick. “The command greatly benefited from his intelligent approach to recruiting, coupled with a discerning eye, nested with great judgment.  I wish him the best and know that wherever he goes, he will enable the unit's success by leading and caring for the Marines.”

       A key part of the relief and appointment ceremony is the passing of the noncommissioned officer sword. For centuries, the sword has been carried by noncommissioned and staff noncommissioned officers as a symbol of their ability and prestige as enlisted leaders of the Marine Corps. The passing of the sword signifies the transfer of sacred trust from one sergeant major to the other.

       “Sergeant Major Baxter is highly experienced, quick to grasp the complexities inherent within systematic recruiting operations and brings great leadership tempered with a common sense approach, which will sustain our success,” said Bock. “I look forward to the relationship we will forge.”


       Baxter, a Center Cross, Virginia native, enlisted in the Marine Corps Jan. 15, 1991. Upon completion of recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, he was assigned to Marine Combat Training, Camp Geiger, North Carolina. Following MCT, he reported to military occupational specialty school at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina to become a combat engineer.

       In November 2004, Baxter received orders to Marine Wing Support Squadron 372 as the Construction Platoon staff noncommissioned officer in charge.  While with MWSS-372, he deployed to Iraq and upon return was reassigned as Engineer Company, company gunnery sergeant.

       In September 2009, 1st Sgt. Baxter received orders to 3rd Battalion, 10th Marine Regiment, where he deployed with Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 22nd MEU. 

       Baxter has been serving as 2nd Radio Battalion’s sergeant major since December 2012. 

       Before the closing of the ceremony, the newly appointed sergeant major gave the Marines and guests in attendance words of encouragement.

       “First thing I’m going to tell all of you – and I can guarantee this – if there’s anything you need, I’ll be there for you,” said Baxter. “In 1996, Sgt. Maj. Sweeney and I were on the drill field together. I was taking his spot and he did a 3-week turnover with me. He did right by me there, and he did right by me here… RS Frederick is going to keep doing great things.”