News: More than 200 attend E-9 picnic aboard base
Story by Pfc. Samuel Ellis
QUANTICO, Va. - A baseball cap, pinned with an E-9 insignia, sat on the grey-streaked head of the tall man from Mooresville, Ind. Retired Sgt. Maj. Steven Holloway adjusted his cap as he discussed weapons with Cpl. Emilio Bourne, combat engineer instructor, The Basic School.
"This is my fifth picnic since I retired in 1989," said Holloway. "Coming to the picnic is like going to a family reunion. Nothing compares to the camaraderie of being around other Marines."
Over 200 active and retired Marines participated in the event, which was only part of the daily festivities.
"The picnic was open to all retired E-9s east of the Mississippi River and active duty E-9s who attended the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps Symposium," said Sgt. Maj. Jamie Deets, sergeant major, Security Bn. "The picnic is held every year in conjunction with the symposium."
Annually, the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, currently Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Micheal Barrett, conducts a symposium to gather feedback and discuss policy from Marine Corps sergeants major, master gunnery sergeants and Navy master chiefs.
After the weeklong symposium, members of the highest enlisted ranks are invited to a weekend of fellowship starting with a Friday night social hour and ending with brunch Sunday morning. The picnic is one of the opportunities afforded during the weekend.
"Some of these men and women are Vietnam veterans," said Sgt. Maj. David Devaney, sergeant major, Weapons Training Battalion. "Our Marines get to rub shoulders with them and the retirees get to see the advances, techniques, tactics and technologies that Marines use today."
Several groups including The Basic School, the Single Marine Program, the Provost Marshal's Office and the Marine Corps Martial Arts Center of Excellence were present with displays and demonstrations for the participants.
This picnic gives great opportunities for Marines of different time periods to meet and share stories, said Sgt. Maj. Laura Brown, sergeant major of Marine Corps Base Quantico. There are Marines from the Korean War era to Afghanistan veterans who will spend time together and share in Marine Corps camaraderie.
"And thanks to Weapons Training Battalion, we were able to add new opportunities this year,” said Brown, describing the open firing range where participants could fire several weapons, including the M-4 carbine, M16 A4 rifle, M9 Beretta Pistol, M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle and AK-47 rifle.
Whether firing weapons, making new friends, reminiscing about past experiences or sharing a meal, each part of the picnic pointed to an overall purpose.
"The purpose of the picnic is to celebrate the heritage of our Corps with leaders of the past and present," said Deets. "After all, when you get Marines together, it's always a party."