HENDERSON HALL, Va. -- The Marine Corps' top enlisted leader met with Marines stationed at Henderson Hall on Thursday Oct. 23.
During his visit, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada went to different work sections here not only to meet Marines, but also to inform them of current issues in the Marine Corps, and to thank them for what they do.
"The focus is usually on the Marines that are at the Pentagon and the (Navy) Annex... but those Marines would not be able to do their thing if not for the hard work and dedication of the Marines here at Henderson Hall supporting them," Estrada said.
Estrada likes meeting Marines because he believes that being Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps is more than paperwork.
"I am the eyes and ears and I help advise the Commandant on a lot of the issues concerning the whole Marine Corps. In order to be the best advisor... I feel it's very important that I get out of my office and get out there and actually speak with Marines... so I can have a good feel of what their concerns are. I would not know if there was issues with facilities, weapons, or support unless I get out there and hear about it," Estrada said.
Cpl. Melvin Ramirez, Headquarters and Service Battalion company clerk, was one of the Marines who got to meet and talk to Estrada. He also received a coin for the work he has done here.
"It was very motivating," said Ramirez. "When he gave me the coin it caught me off guard. Getting it from him personally meant more than actually being given the coin."
After visiting different work sections, Estrada met with everyone in the base theater to discuss current issues in the Marine Corps and about what he expects from noncommissioned officers and staff noncommissioned officers.
"I challenge my staff NCOs," said Estrada during his discussion. "I consider sergeants and below our future leaders. I need my staff NCOs to show those sergeants and below how to be successful just like you are, and that takes concerned leadership (and) mentoring. We don't do that well anymore and we need to step up and start doing that. I (also) expect the sergeants to be doing the same thing to the corporals and lance corporals."
Estrada says concerned leadership "means you worry about your Marines outside of the working hours window." A major area he wants to see concerned leadership in is safety.
"(The) Marine Corps is by far the worst of all services as we relate to safety," Estrada said. "It embarrasses me to have to say that, but it's the truth, and it should embarrass you too."
Estrada also spoke about enlisted professional military education. His is working closely with training command on a developing a "roadmap." It will be given to Marines as they leave boot camp and will lay out what they have to do professionally and educationally to have at least an associate's degree by the end of their enlistment.
Estrada ended his discussion by giving Marines the opportunity to ask him questions.
While there are issues that need resolving, Estrada is pleased overall at what he has seen during visits to bases and with the current state of the Marine Corps.
"I would feel that I accomplished my mission as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps when I step out of the door and I know that the Commandant and myself have left the Marine Corps in as good of shape as it was passed on to us, or even better. Our goal is to better the Corps for future battles."