Why the Marines will never abandon you

Why the Marines will never abandon you


On January 26, 2024, I was honored to attend the 7th Marine Regiment Sergeant Major Change of Command ceremony at Marine Corps Base 29 Palms.

A change of command is a long-standing tradition in the Marine Corps in which a commanding officer or sergeant major transfers command and responsibility of the unit and Marines to the next commander.

Responsibility is a word that gets thrown around a lot, but think of waking up every morning with a responsibility for the lives and well-being of 4,000 young Marines. The Commander told us the story of how the Sergeant Major keeps a picture of every Marine he and his Corps have lost in the left breast pocket of his uniform. My friend Sergeant Major Turay said, “We are so strong,” and most of the soldiers cried. Luckily, I was wearing sunglasses so the younger Marines couldn’t see the tears streaming down the face of this old devil.

The change of command involves the Marines marching in formation, their movements perfectly synchronized with the rhythm of the Marines. The unit parades and exchanges of flags symbolize the change of command.

I have been retired from my beloved Marine Corps for almost as long as I served, but the pride and honor of being one of the few will never fade. Serving with the great warriors of the 7th Marine Regiment as part of the 1st Marine Division Desert Association was an amazing experience.

This weekend, America remembers its fallen soldiers on Memorial Day. It is a solemn day, especially for veterans who personally remember their comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice. Many veterans are told, “Thank you for your service,” and can struggle to come up with an appropriate response. I believe I have the perfect answer: “Welcome to your freedom.” The freedom to do what you want, think what you want, and live in this free country. The greatest country in the world.

Once a Marine… always a Marine.

For more information about the 1st Marine Division Association, visit desertmarines.org.

Robert Puentes is a retired Army Sergeant, entrepreneur, Fitness Innovators member, 1st Marine Division Associate Member, and Kiwanis Club of Palm Springs member. He can be reached at Puentesrc@gmail.com.



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