Thursday, March 18, 2010

13th MEU sergeant major departs unit after four years, new man fills his shoes

The 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s command element gathered at Artillery Firing Area 15, Camp Pendleton, Calif., today in formation to bear witness to the departure of Sgt. Maj. Enrique X. Hines, outgoing sergeant major, 13th MEU, and to welcome his replacement, Sgt. Maj. Juan M. Hidalgo.

After more than four years with the 13th MEU and 30 years in the Marine Corps, Hines relinquished his final position and bid farewell to the last Marines he would ever lead—April 9 marks his retirement date.

Following the traditions of the Marine Corps, a symbolic noncommissioned officer’s sword was passed from the outgoing sergeant major to the incoming recognizing the passing of responsibility from Sgt. Maj. Hines to Sgt. Maj. Hidalgo.

“It’s been a good ride,” said Hines who hails from the Republic of Costa Rica. “It’s bitter sweet, I’m happy to be leaving, but it’s tough.”

Hines addressed the senior leadership, his peers and Marines while reminiscing on all the good times he would miss.

He left his soapbox shortly after stepping on it, but not without leaving a few words of wisdom for the man who now claims the title of 13th MEU sergeant major.

“You will definitely see the spirit of the ‘Fighting Thirteenth’,” said Hines to Hidalgo. “You’re coming into a great unit.”

He told the incoming sergeant major that he could not have asked for a better replacement and that his reputation preceded him.

Hidalgo, formerly the command sergeant major for 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion and native of San Diego, said he looked forward to serving with the Marines of the 13th MEU and answered a question that was running through all the Marines’ heads. What kind of sergeant major was coming to lead them? His answer was short, simple and to the point.

“We’re going to follow the Marine Corps standard,” said Hidalgo.

The history of the “Fighting Thirteenth” now rests in the hands of their new sergeant major, and their future of outstanding service will be based on his ability to lead the command element to success; a concept not unfamiliar to the Marines now under his charge.

“I’m losing my battle buddy,” said Col. David W. Coffman, commanding officer, 13th MEU. “I had the best battle buddy in the Marine Corps and I’m gonna miss him.”

Turning to his new battle buddy, Coffman welcomed Hidalgo to the unit and said he looked forward to the many good times to come.