MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. -- The Marine Corps has appointed 34 commandants since November 28, 1775, but to one Marine, meeting the newest commandant allowed incomparable mentorship.
The Atlanta native listened attentively to his new commandant, Gen. James Conway, speak to the sea of Marines at the Goetge field house, while mentally taking notes on the general’s key points; future deployments, the Marine Corps role in Iraq and abroad, and even a possible uniform change concerning physical-training clothing.
“I’ve seen only a few change of commands since I’ve been in the Marine Corps,” explained Lance Cpl. Joshua D. Galle, an infantryman with Headquarters Company, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, “but I haven’t ever gotten to meet someone as important as him.”
“I felt he answered everyone’s questions from the small, no matter how unimportant, or important they may have seemed,” the 2001 Old Suwanee Christian High School graduate continued.
Galle felt it was important the commandant addressed concerns about Marines recovering from combat stress while in Iraq.
“The privates and private first class’ are my heroes because they’ve been to Iraq already,” explained Galle, “but then I see them getting punished for making bad choices while unwinding from their tour.”
Galle was chosen, out of dozens of other Marines, to represent his company because his supervisors felt he was the proper candidate.
“One of the big keys as to why we chose Galle, is he’s well spoken and has the composure to address senior officers,” explained Gunnery Sgt. Matthew Harris, Headquarters Company gunnery sergeant.
Harris, a Victor, N.Y., native, explained that not only is Galle able to speak tactfully to his superiors, he also is a diligent worker.
“He was a real go-getter and hard worker from the start,” Harris explained, “so I wanted to give him a little face time with all of the senior Marines.”
Hundreds of Marines stood at attention as Conway walked up to the podium, in a casual but fatherly manner. With a hand on his hip, he explained the future of Marines in Iraq.
“As long as there’s a fight, as long as there’s an insurgent, the Marines will be there,” Conway stated.
Galle sat up in a very Marine-like manner while listening to his commandant talk about a possible change in the Marine Corps’ outdated green-on-green physical training gear.
“We’re looking at adding some reflective gear to it,” Conway said, “so we won’t need to use reflective belts anymore.”
The discussion about PT gear wasn’t the main topic during the open forum as many Marines asked questions about Iraq, new tattoo policies and the future replacement to the Humvee.
“We have a name for it, but we aren’t sure which model we are going to choose yet,” explained Conway, when asked about the possible replacement.
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps John Estrada explained how full-sleeve tattoos could possibly hurt a Marine’s career.
“Marines with sleeves can lose chances at B-billets just because of their appearance,” Estrada explained, “It lacks professionalism.”
Conway and Estrada thanked the crowd of Marines at the hall that day. One Marine, Galle, stood especially proud, while his new commandant exited the building.