Corps’ top enlisted talks current issues with Marines and recruits on Parris Island
By Pfc. Heather A. Golden
| | October 28, 2005
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada talks with recruits at Weapons and Field Training Battalion Oct. 19. Estrada also spoke with Marines at the Depot Theater about important issues affecting them today.
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. -- Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John L. Estrada visited with Parris Island Marines Oct. 19 to discuss the vital role the Recruit Depot plays in “making Marines.”
Estrada spent time talking with the Marines about the importance of training and education, the changing responsibilities of younger Marines and the role Parris Island is playing in direct relation to the war in Iraq.
“I foresee us continuing to transform so our Corps is ready to meet the challenges of the future,” said Estrada. “We’re going to do that with our training, our education and [by] upgrading our equipment.”
These trips around the Corps have the sergeant major away from his Capitol Hill post 20 days out of a month.
“I feel [these trips] are important because of what our Marines are being asked to do during this time in history, which is a lot more than we’ve asked of them in a long time,” said Estrada.
“Marines on their first enlistment could possibly deploy three times to a combat zone within the first enlistment. So there’s a lot of stress on the force,” said Estrada. “I feel it’s important to let the Marines out there know that their leadership cares about what they are doing and we appreciate their sacrifices. It’s real important that we get a feel for what their concerns are and what we can do to better support them.”
One concern Estrada emphasized was the importance of training for all Marines, deployed and stateside.
“The Commandant and I [are] committed to ensuring that all Marines [going to Iraq] receive the best training,” said Estrada.
The sergeant major also encouraged the Marines to strike out on their own by doing Marine Corps Institute courses and by enrolling in college classes.
Marines in Iraq were another hot topic of conversation in a discussion between the Sergeant Major and the Marines.
Estrada pointed out the fact that Marines who are on their first enlistment and barely into their careers are being placed in leadership positions they weren’t filling before.
“Corporals and sergeants are making strategic decisions. Years ago it was colonels and generals. That shows the caliber of Marines we have here,” said Estrada. “We are tenacious in combat. And guess who was leading them? Corporals and sergeants, going house-to-house in urban warfare.”
Although Parris Island Marines are not slotted to deploy, Estrada assured his Marines that the jobs they do here are vital to the success of the troops in Iraq and the Marine Corps.
“[There are] thousands of them out there,” said Estrada. “You helped train some of them, and they are doing a damn good job.”
“I went out there to motivate and inspire them. Well, guess what? I didn’t have to,” said Estrada. “They’re already motivated and inspired. They motivated and inspired the hell out of me.”
The sergeant major also impressed upon the Marines that he and the commandant are proud to claim everyone of them as their troops, and that the Marines give them “bragging rights up on the hill.”
“[There are] a lot of good things going on down here in Parris Island. The caliber of Marines that they are putting out are better than they have ever been throughout our Corps’ history.”