CAMP HURRICANE POINT AR RAMADI, Iraq -- Roland Salinas reached the final rung on the Marine Corps’ ladder of success for enlisted personnel when he replaced his master sergeant rank insignia with that of master gunnery sergeant during a promotion ceremony here.
Fellow Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, gathered to honor the operations chief with Headquarters and Service Company on his day of advancement.
“This promotion means a lot to me,” the 42-year-old from San Antonio, Texas, said to those attending. “I’m very happy because I’ve hit the top. I’ve gone as far as I can go. I’m also a little sad knowing this is my last promotion.”
Salinas enlisted in 1981 and has proudly been wearing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor for more than 24 years.
“I always had plans to stay in as long as I could, but I never thought I’d make it to this level,” he said.
The infantry battalion’s commanding officer, Lt. Col. Eric M. Smith, and operations officer, Maj. Phillip J. Treglia, pinned Salinas’ new rank to his collar.
“This is a huge day for the battalion,” said Smith, a 39-year-old Plano, Texas native. “We should feel honored having a master gunnery sergeant serving with us.”
Salinas’ fellow Marines consider him to be a hardworking professional who has a caring demeanor and witty sense of humor.
“He looks out for all his Marines and makes sure we don’t get tasked with more than we can handle, “said Lance Cpl. John R. Cruz, a 20-year-old of Plainview, Texas, and a rifleman with H&S Company. “He often cracks jokes, too. When it comes to business, though, he makes sure the mission gets accomplished.”
Salinas and his fellow Marines with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, are on a seven-month deployment in support of Operation Iraq Freedom. A month into the deployment, he raised his right hand and took his final oath of enlistment.
"My time in the Corps is almost up,” he said. “Looking back, it seems like it went by in a flash.”
Salinas is making the most of his final three years in the Marines.
“This is a once in a lifetime experience,” said Salinas, who’s on his twilight contract. “Few Marines can say they’ve either reenlisted or been promoted in a combat zone. I’ve been fortunate enough to say I’ve done both.”
After his enlistment, Salinas plans to continue serving his country as a federal employee.
“I want to go to work for the United States Postal Service and carry mail in my hometown of San Antonio.”