AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Morale was the focus in a surprise visit to Hurricane Point in Ar Ramadi, Iraq, by the commander and senior enlisted leader of the U.S. Marine Corps.
The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, and the sergeant major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Major John L. Estrada, visited the Marines of 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, during a tour of Iraq on Oct. 2.
The two senior leaders of the Corps met a gathering of Marines and sailors from various companies of the battalion and thanked them for the sacrifices made during service in the war on terror.
Recognizing the hardships brought on by combat deployments, Gen. Hagee also took a moment to address family.
“We have to thank the families as well; they sacrifice too,” said Gen. Hagee.
The Marines and sailors of 1/6 were lauded for a continuing job well done and for their multiple deployments in support of the war on terror.
The commandant also took the time with 1/6 to reinforce his support in the new padded linings of the Kevlar helmet.
Expressing his concern for the severity of head injuries, Gen. Hagee ensured every Marine was using the new system.
“The commandant has a commitment to ensuring his Marines and sailors have the best equipment and training that he can provide,” said Lt. Col. William M. Jurney, 42-year-old commanding officer of the battalion.
After a brief talk, the commandant opened the floor to questions from the Marines and sailors of the battalion.
In response to the various questions, Gen. Hagee spoke of new personal protective equipment in testing and a possible replacement for the M-16A4 service rifle.
“It’s good to know that (the commandant) is really trying to take care of us,” said Lance Cpl. Juan C. Negrete, a 20-year-old personnel clerk for the battalion. “He wanted to make sure our gear was working properly and that everyone had the proper gear.”
When the questions began to slow, Gen. Hagee and Sgt. Maj. Estrada posed for photos with all the Marines and sailors present.
A select few from each company also received a coin from the commandant.
“I feel special being chosen to be one of the few to receive a coin from him,” said Negrete, a native of Houston.
Just a few hours after arriving, the commandant and sergeant major left Hurricane Point for their next stop.
Although the Corps’ two senior leaders didn’t have much time to spare, their visit leaves a significant impact on the Marines and sailors they meet.
“Leaders at every rank are expected to lead from the front and by example ... the commandant and sergeant major of the Marine Corps' visit exemplify their conviction to this principle,” said Jurney, a native of Statesville, N.C.