FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. --
It was a historic day for the Fort Leonard Wood Marine Corps Detachment as Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps, stepped foot on post for the first time on Oct. 18.
Amos said he has been trying to clear his schedule for months to visit Fort Leonard Wood.
“This is entry level, Military Occupational Specialty training. So, I want to see them and look them in the eye. I also want to tell the instructors ‘thanks,’” Amos said. “For me to be able to come out to Missouri is probably the most important thing I will do this month. We will work budgets and make decisions, but this is allows me to be able to look members of Congress in the eye, the press or when speaking at some event, and tell them I was just at Fort Leonard Wood — I talked to the Marines there and they looked like bright and shiny new pennies and they were excited.”
While on post, Amos said the Fort Leonard Wood Marine Corps Detachment was absolutely critical to the U.S. Marine Corps’ mission.
“Just think of everything we have done in the last 10 years. We couldn’t have moved to Baghdad or Tikrit, and we couldn’t have accomplished what we have in the Helmand province. It began with heavy equipment, motor transport, military police — it all begins here. We did a lot of CBRN training at Miramar, because we were convinced we were going to get gassed as soon as we crossed those borders. We can’t do what we need to do in the Marine Corps in an expeditionary environment without the Marines and training that takes place here. That’s why I wanted to come here,” Amos said.
Amos was given a tour of post, he said was most impressed by Fort Leonard Wood’s beauty and the first-rate Marines he found here.
“This is rural base in the middle part of America. It’s a very pretty base because it is rural,” Amos said. “What impressed me the most is walking into the field house and see 1,200 Marines.”
While on post Amos spoke to his Marines at Nutter Field House. He covered topics from the Marine Corps’ past and future, to retention and honor before taking a few questions from the crowd.
“Our future is bright. We are America’s crisis response team. We are going to preserve that as we go into the future. As we are shaping the Marine Corps for the next decade we have challenges with budgets. I don’t want a single Marine in here to worry about that. That’s my job and the Sergeant Major’s job. We will take care of that,” Amos said. “I’m a four-star general, and I get to lead the greatest warfighting force on the face of the earth. When I stand in front of Congress, the Senate Armed Services Committee, the Secretary of Defense or the President of the United States and I start talking about Marines — I talk about honor. You might think that’s silly, but it’s pretty basic. Our honor is who we are.”
He said visiting the Marines here is about more than giving out awards, it’s being able to see the future of the Corps, pump them up and remind them of what a great organization they are part of.
“You said you wanted to be a United States Marine. We didn’t join you, you joined us. You went through 12 weeks of boot camp and came out the other end a different person. Don’t every forget who you are. Always keep your honor,” Amos said.
The Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Major Micheal Barrett, also came with Amos to see Fort Leonard Wood. When he spoke to the Marines he told him he was the one that felt honored to be able to meet them.
“I’m privileged that I get to wear the same exact uniform as you. You all had a choice in life. You joined when the nation was at war, but you swore your allegiance to serve your nation. I am humbled to look just like you,” Barrett said. “The finest instructors we have in the United States Marine Corps are right here at Fort Leonard Wood.”
Amos’ wife, Bonnie also accompanied him on his visit. While he and Barrett were speaking to the Marines, Bonnie met with the Fort Leonard Wood Marine Corps Detachment’s spouses at Piney Hills Community Center.
Before leaving Amos said he was very impressed by everything he experienced at Fort Leonard Wood and was motivated by the Marines he met at the Detachment.
“We got more out of this than the Marines did,” Amos said.