VALLEY CENTER, Calif. -- Marine Corps and Navy enlisted leadership attended the West Coast Senior Enlisted Professional Dinner in Valley Center, California, Feb. 8, 2018.
The event, hosted by Sgt. Maj. Bradley Kasal, sergeant major of I Marine Expeditionary Force, featured several honored guests, all chosen from the highest enlisted ranks of the Marine Corps. It also honored the spouses of these guests for their family’s unwavering devotion and the sacrifices they make for their spouses’ service to the country.
“It’s up to us to preserve what so many before us have sacrificed for this country,” said Kasal. “We must be willing to do this so that Miss Liberty herself continues to stand, watching over the New York harbor, holding high the beacon of freedom. If not we, then who?”
The event began with each table introducing themselves and their guests and later gave way to the main ceremony, which included a prayer for all those who serve and a speech from Kasal. Kasal took time to recognize the honored guests of the evening and to reflect on the devotion of all those in attendance.
“This [event] is important because it brings together all these individuals, who are the key leaders, enlisted wise, and takes them away from the computers, away from the emails and all the phone calls and lets them intermingle,” said 1st Sgt. John Miller, first sergeant of Headquarters Company, I MEF Information Group. “Many of the guests did not know who they were sitting next to tonight, and we did that intentionally so that it gave these [enlisted leaders] a chance to get to know one another. Events like this make us a more solid team and builds the unity of I MEF.”
The ceremony concluded with Kasal handing out personalized Marine Corps and Navy coins to all enlisted members in attendance and roses to all of the spouses. In addition, Kasal thanked those who made the event possible, including the 1st Marine Division Band, who provided the music for the ceremony.
“This year’s ceremony was made especially important because of Sgt. Maj. Kasal,” said Miller. “Our I MEF sergeant major is about to retire and go on to do different things. The legacy that he is going to leave behind will be everlasting. It’s important for him to see the Marines and get to thank them for everything, while at the same time it is wonderful to have the Marines come out and support him and to continue the legacies like the one we’re doing here tonight.”
This is the third year Kasal has held this dinner and every year sees more support from the enlisted leadership and higher attendance than the previous year.
As the evening, came to a close, Miller led the attendees in singing the first verse of the Marines’ Hymn, a sendoff to the success of the evening and a show of commitment that all those in attendance have to one another and to the Marine Corps.