Commandant visits 24th MEU (SOC) in Bahrain

3 Feb 2003 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

As the USS Nassau pulled into port to give its crew and the Marines aboard some time off, the Marines and Sailors of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) were paid a visit by some very special guests - the Commandant, First Lady and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.

During the visit, the Commandant of Marine Corps, Gen. Michael W. Hagee, his wife Silke, and Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Sgt. Maj. Alford L. McMichael spoke to the assembled Marines and Sailors, answered their questions and spoke to the Marines individually.

One highlight of the visit was the meritorious promotion of two of the MEU's non-commissioned officers. Sgt. Craig R. DeWitt, Reconnaissance Platoon and Rhinebeck, N.Y. native and Sgt. Paige L. Thomas, logistics section, Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 263 and Coatesville, Pa. native, were promoted to their present ranks during a formation on the ship's flight deck.

After the promotions the Commandant and Sergeant Major spoke to the Marines. During his speech, the Commandant said, "I cannot think of a better place to be than out here part of the Navy-Marine Corps team on an Amphib."

He also told the Marines, "There is no better time to be a Marine than today. We are fully engaged in a global war on terrorism, we have Marines scattered across the globe ... I want to thank you very much for what you are doing out here, you are representing the United States extremely well and you are representing the Marine Corps extremely well. And I know if the President asks us to do something, that you'll be able to do that extremely well and very professionally."

Mrs. Hagee also spoke about the Marine Corps' concern for servicemembers families.

After answering some of the Marine's questions, the Commandant and Sergeant Major walked around shaking hands and talking to the Marines one-on-one. He also thanked them for their service to the country.

"It was good to have him come out here. It makes me feel like he really cares about us out here," said Lance Cpl. Nikolaus Gugelman, Supply and Logistics section, Command Element and Seattle native. "He had some nice things to say about us and I think that helped boost the morale around here."