View Full Version : Oki Marines welcome Corps sergeant major

11-17-03, 02:10 PM
Oki Marines welcome Corps sergeant major
Submitted by: MCB Camp Butler
Story Identification Number: 2003111635156
Story by Sgt. Jason D. Gallentine

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa, Japan (Nov. 11, 2003) -- Every unit in the Marine Corps strives each year to find an individual of honor, courage, and commitment to speak as the guest of honor at the Marine Corps Ball.

This year 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, found just the man, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John Estrada.

According to 1st Sgt. James Prokosch, company first sergeant, Motor Transportation Company, the battalion heard rumors that Estrada was offering to be a guest of honor at Marine Corps Balls. As soon as he heard that, Prokosch, the battalion's senior ball representative, sent an invitation.

In August Prokosch received a reply of acceptance.

News of the acceptance shocked many Marines and Sailors of 3rd TSB, and they felt it an honor that the senior enlisted man in the Marine Corps would attend their ball.

"Most Marines will never meet the Sergeant Major, let alone have him as a guest of honor," Prokosch said. "They had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet and shake hands with him."

After a short introduction from 3rd TSB's commanding officer, Col. Michael Godfrey, Sgt. Maj. Estrada began his speech by thanking the Marines for inviting him to their ball. Noting that Marines gather all across the world to celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday and their heritage and values, he emphasized the fact that Marines really are the few and the proud.

"It has been said there are only two types of people who understand Marines," Estrada said. "The first are Marines themselves. The second are those that have been unfortunate enough to have met Marines in combat."

Remarking on the training of the Marine Corps and their continued success, Estrada praised the 3rd TSB for their role in defense throughout history.

"Since their activation in 1942, Marines of this battalion have distinguished themselves with great honors around the world," he said.

Highlighting the battles their battalion has participated in, and their predecessors' accomplishments, Estrada put a challenge to the current and future Marines.

"Now though, the time has come for you to leave your mark on the history of our beloved Corps and our great nation," he said.

When all is told on our country's history, Americans will define these moments and today's Marines' contributions as the turning point in the global war on terrorism, he said.

"This past year has seen two types of Marines," he added. "Those who went over to Iraq, and those who wanted to go."

After Estrada completed his speech, Prokosch presented him with two tokens of appreciation; a glass plaque thanking him for attending the ball and a personalized putter from the senior enlisted.

Telling the Marines and Sailors that the plaque will find a place of honor in his office, he thanked them all for the gifts.

Immediately following the speeches, the ceremonies continued with the cake cutting ceremony and a uniform pageant.

Throughout the evening Estrada mingled with the Marines and Sailors shaking hands, answering questions, taking photos, and giving them an opportunity to meet their senior leader.

According to Lance Cpl. Robert Cross, operator, motor transportation company, 3rd TSB, he was shocked that Estrada came to their ball, and he personally gained more heart for the Marine Corps and more desire to get to where the sergeant major is.

"He had some very good points (in his speech)," the Grand Junction, Colo., native said. "(3rd TSB) have accomplished so much. It made me realize what kind of unit I'm in."

Remarking on Estrada's personality and leadership, Cross conveyed the impression the sergeant major left upon him.

"He struck me as the kind of guy you would love to go to war with," he added.

According to Cpl. Gaquita Metze, training noncommissioned officer, 1st platoon, Landing Support Company, most people fear high-ranking people would be stuck up, but Estrada was very down to earth and very nice.

"He gave me something to strive for as far as furthering my career in the Marine Corps," said the Chattanooga, Tenn., native. "After learning everything he has done, it gives me something to look forward to."

Thankful for the opportunity to meet and speak with Estrada, Metze was still shocked at Estrada's appearance at their ball.

"He came here for us when he could've been doing other things," she said. "I will always remember this ball just for that. I can't believe he came all the way here just for our ball."


Sgt. Maj. Billy Hawkins (center), sergeant major of 3rd Transportation Support Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group, and his wife Shirley greet Sgt. Maj. John Estrada, Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps, during Sgt. Maj. Estrada's visit at the guest of honor at 3rd TSB's Marine Corps Ball. Photo by: Sgt. Jason D. Gallentine