CAMP TAQADDUM, Iraq -- A military promotion can be an honorable and memorable experience.
But how many service members can say they’ve been promoted by a four-star general?
It’s a relatively short list.
How about a four-star general, an actor who brawled with Patrick Swayze and a career martial artist/cultural icon with a propensity for roundhouse kicks? Even the grandkids might have trouble believing that one.
Corporals John W. Wright and Lazaro A. Castillo, intelligence specialists with Headquarters Company, 1st Marine Logistics Group (Forward), and Cpl. Romel M. Estremadura, a member of the 1st MLG Personal Security Detachment, earned these bragging rights and their present rank during a special promotion ceremony here Nov. 2.
Gen. Robert Magnus, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, along with action stars Marshall Teague and Chuck Norris, joined a military formation of 20 service members to promote the three Marines.
Magnus administered their oaths of enlistment and handed out the Marines’ promotion certificates before speaking to the crowd.
“Most of the Marines standing before us joined in the middle of a lethal war,” said Magnus, referring to the entire formation. “You should all be proud.
“What you’re doing is giving (the Iraqis) a chance, an opportunity. Most of you are rotating home, but the Iraqis are not going anywhere, they are home. You are helping them take back their own country, and they appreciate it.”
Magnus alluded to a conversation he had with Maj. Gen. Tariq Abdul Wahab Jasim, commander of the 1st Iraqi Army Division.
“General Tariq said you are all humanitarians, an interesting choice of words... but what he meant is that you are giving all of yourselves on behalf of his people,” Magnus explained.
“I’ve never been prouder in 37 years than I am right now standing among the likes of you,” he added. Magnus received his commission in 1969, seven years after Norris, 66, completed his fourth year in the Air Force.
Norris was a military police officer and took his first martial arts class while deployed to South Korea. For one of the recently promoted Marines, pinning on his new rank at the hands of a childhood hero seemed a fitting honor.
“I grew up watching ‘Walker, Texas Ranger’ with my dad – we still watch reruns,” said Wright, a 21-year-old from Malakoff, Texas. He started laughing. “I guess it’s a Texas thing.”