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    Retired Marine, Pohnpeian Native Continues to Serve

    Retired Marine, Pohnpeian Native Continues to Serve

    Photo By 1st Lt. Arthur Deal | Retired U.S. Marine Gunnery Sgt. Omar Hadley, left, a native of Pohnpei, Federated...... read more read more



    Story by 1st Lt. Arthur Deal 

    1st Marine Logistics Group

    After 20 years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, Gunnery Sgt. Omar Hadley knew it was time to come home. Following the end of his last tour in 2018, the retired personnel administrative chief returned to his home island of Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia. After a year of working an office job for the Penieu town government, he knew working behind a desk for his second act in life wasn’t for him.

    “I’ve always had a passion for cooking,” said Hadley. “I’ve always enjoyed cooking for others.”

    The passion grew into a small business. Hadley would post online, offering to deliver whatever cuisine he was whipping up in his kitchen for a small fee. As more orders started flooding in, Hadley decided it was time take the next step.

    “In the back of my head I always thought about opening my own restaurant,” said Hadley.

    In 2020, Hadley opened “The Shak”, a restaurant featuring recipes Hadley picked up from his travels around the world with the Marine Corps.

    “Every deployment I went on, I tried different cuisines,” said Hadley. “So, I try to throw in everything from everywhere I’ve been.”

    But as fate would have it, the Marine Corps soon came knocking on his kitchen door with one more job for him.

    When Task Force Koa Moana 23 decided it would send Marines to the shores of Micronesia for the first time, they knew they needed help keeping those Marines fed.

    The Marine Corps awarded Hadley a contract with the mission to feed Marines three meals a day during their time in Pohnpei. Hadley accepted the challenge, shut down his restaurant for three months and suddenly found himself surrounded by Marines once again.

    “I miss the comradery. I miss deployments,” said Hadley. “I love the Marine Corps. They are my brothers and sisters. I wanted Marines to enjoy the island while they are here.”

    Marines and Sailors with the Pohnpei detachment of Koa Moana have kept busy so far this summer. They have made repairs to long range radio towers, provided guidance for how to make the landing strip at the airport safer and offered training classes for local medical staff. Having a chef who knows their needs has helped the Marines thrive.

    “Gunnery Sergeant Hadley has been an integral part of our life support, liaising with local leaders and providing insight on which activities would have the most impact,” said Lt. Col. Robert Hillery, commanding officer for Task Force Koa Moana 23. “His ties to the island of Pohnpei have enabled Marines to connect with the local community.”

    Now, with his family by his side in the kitchen, Omar knows he’ll have no problem meeting mission. He just wants Marines to feel welcome in his home country.

    “I have my family here in Micronesia,” said Hadley. “But for 20 years, the Marine Corps was my family.”



    Date Taken: 07.25.2023
    Date Posted: 07.24.2023 12:17
    Story ID: 449835
    Location: POHNPEI, FM

    Web Views: 444
    Downloads: 2