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Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada

Sgt. Maj. John L. Estrada ()

ARLINGTON, Va. — Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Michael Hagee has picked Sgt. Maj. John Estrada to become the 15th sergeant major of the Marine Corps.

Estrada currently is the top enlisted man of the 3rd Marine Air Wing in California and deployed to Kuwait.

Estrada will replace Sgt. Maj. Alford McMichael, who ditched his retirement plans last month to assume a newly created job of senior enlisted adviser to NATO, working again for Gen. James Jones, the Corps’ former commandant.

“I did not sleep at all last night,” Estrada is quoted as saying during an all-hands staff noncommissioned officer meeting in Kuwait on April 22. “This is a very momentous event. There are many Marines and sailors I have to thank. I know I wouldn’t be in this position if it were not for them. This is as much a part of you as it is of me.”

The quote appears in a story published on the official Marine Corps Web site,

Estrada moved in December 2001 to Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, Calif., which is home of the 3rd Marine Air Wing.

“I was very fortunate to get slated to be the 3rd MAW sergeant major,” Estrada is quoted as saying. “I did not realize when I put my name in for that job that it would be such a huge responsibility. I wanted to get back out West because I was approaching retirement time and I was looking at retiring. Since I came up through the wing it was like a homecoming of some sorts and I could not think of a better way to end my career — to be fortunate enough to come back and end it in the wing. It was just a tremendous billet for me.”

Hagee selected Estrada over three other candidates: Sgt. Maj. John Mersino, command sergeant major of U.S. European Command; Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, sergeant major of U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe; and Sgt. Maj. William Kinney, sergeant major of 1st Marine Expeditionary Force.

Estrada is set to take over on June 26.

He enlisted in the Marine Corps Sept. 5, 1973, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

He has served at Beaufort, S.C.; Iwakuni, Japan; Yuma, Ariz.; and El Toro, Calif., and has been deployed aboard the USS Coral Sea to the western Pacific and Arabian Sea. He also served at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., and served as a drill instructor in San Diego, to name a few of his duties.

As a sergeant major, he served from March 1995 to May 1998 as sergeant major for 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, at Camp Pendleton, Calif., and deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) and the 15th MEU (SOC) to the western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf.

His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

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