Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA --
Upon conclusion of the week- long 18th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps (SMMC) Symposium, active duty and retired E-9 Marines—sergeants major and master gunnery sergeants were welcomed to The Clubs at Quantico for the E-9 Social, formerly known as the SMMC Picnic.
Traditionally, the social welcomes former senior enlisted leaders to share Marine Corps history and build camaraderie with active duty senior enlisted leaders.
Marines of the past and present were provided the opportunity to enhance former senior enlisted leaders’ understanding of today’s Marine Corps through static displays and familiarization of current and future weapon systems, as well as learn about the Marine Corps Martial Arts Programs’ (MCMAP) advancement in training in hand-to-hand combat tactics.
As the Marines shared stories they imparted knowledge and wisdom onto one another, sharing in a 38 year tradition of breaking bread with one another.
“Most Marines only get to learn about the Marine Corps’ history from textbooks or documentaries, but this is history right here in front of us,” Sgt. Maj. Thomas Johnson, battalion sergeant major of Headquarters & Service Battalion (H&S Bn) said. “It’s the greatest form of a history lesson—having the ability to listen to the stories, knowledge and wisdom of past and present Marines and compare them in hopes that the future will truly be safer.”
According to Johnson, many of the retired Marines had never seen the MCMAP fighting tactics, nor had they seen some of the advanced weapon systems the Marine Corps’ infantry currently uses.
Infantryman Sgt. Anthony Gardner described the look on the majority of the E-9’s faces, who were seeing the weapon systems for the first time, as “shock and awe.”
“This experience was a good history lesson listening to Marines talk about their experiences with weaponry in the wars they fought and comparing them to what they see today,” Gardner said. “Hearing some of their stories from the weaponry they used in the past, I don’t know if a lot of that would be as effective today, but at the time their weapons were probably advanced to them.”
Gardner also said he could not help but show his appreciation for the wisdom and support of the Marines past, as the stories he heard increased his appreciation for the current Corps he serves.
Retired Master Gunnery Sgt. Rick Pinzon Jr., a frequent attendee of the E-9 Social and government employee aboard Quantico, had an obvious look of appreciation shine through as he spoke to the Marines in attendance.
“I never thought my experience as a Marine would take me to so many places,” Pinzon said. “Twenty-five years of service and I got to travel and experience so many cultures, but more importantly, I was able to build character and be a part of something so important.”
Pinzon spoke about the many Marines he befriended over the years, the places he traveled, the training he received and how he continues to shape the Marine Corps.
Currently, Pinzon assists in the creation of training manuals and lesson plans taught at Marine Corps University to further bestow knowledge onto the current Marine Corps.
“Be proud of whom you are, what you represent, where you come from—many people could have become Marines, but you, the few, have earned the title. Take pride in that,” Pinzon said.