Senior enlisted passes torch of logistics command

25 Jan 2006 | Sgt. Luis R. Agostini

The Iraq-bound 1st Marine Logistics Group has a new senior enlisted advisor.

Sgt. Maj. Dan L. Hakala assumed the leadership role as sergeant major of the 1st MLG during a relief and appointment ceremony here Jan. 21.

The Marine noncommissioned-officer sword was passed from Sgt. Maj. Jerry Cole to Hakala. The emblematic passing of the sword of office signifies the transfer of this sacred trust from one sergeant major to another.

The 1st Marine Division Band performed for the Marines, sailors, friends and family of the two sergeants major on the front lawn of the 1st Marine Logistics Group headquarters building here.

Hakala, who previously served as the Combat Logistics Regiment 1 sergeant major, looks forward to leading and mentoring the Marines and sailors of the 1st MLG, many of whom will return to Iraq in the upcoming weeks when the I Marine Expeditionary Force resumes operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Hakala shared his praise for the Marines and sailors of the 1st MLG during his remarks with the guests of the ceremony, which included the sergeants major and commanding generals of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, 1st Marine Division and I Marine Expeditionary Force.

"(The Marines) have done some fine accomplishments in Iraq, as well as on the eve of their departure," said Hakala, 48, from Butte, Montana.  "I'm proud to be with you."

Cole, who served alongside Lt. Gen. Richard S. Kramlich when they led the unit, then known as the 1st Force Service Support Group, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from February 2004 through January 2005, will retire after 29 years of service. Cole posted as the sergeant major of the 1st Force Service Support Group in Iraq in May 2003.

"The Marines and sailors of the 1st MLG did phenomenal things in 2004 and they'll do phenomenal things again in 2006," said Cole, a 46-year-old from Gastonia, N.C.

"The MLG is in great hands right now," Cole said. "They have great NCO, Staff NCO and officer leadership."

Cole isn't heading too far away from the Southern California base. His post-Corps plans have him as a substance-abuse program specialist, at the Camp Pendleton Consolidated Abuse Center, where he will assist Marines and sailors in substance abuse programs, such as alcoholism and drug problems.

After thanking his commanders and mentors for lessons throughout his Marine Corps career, he addressed the first sergeant and sergeant major community, as well as those Marines aspiring to fill the senior enlisted leadership ranks.

"Our community is very small and very volatile," said Cole of the senior enlisted ranks. "There is only one way to do things - the right way."

He also left his MLG Marines with a message for the future.

"Everyone is always telling you what to do, and how to do it. Concentrate on one thing - being an outstanding Marine. That outstanding Marine will allow you to be nothing less than outstanding."

The 1st MLG, led by Brig. Gen. David G. Reist, provides combat service support, including logistical and medical support, to I Marine Expeditionary Force units.

The logistics unit supplied thousands of Marines in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in recent years throughout Iraq's Al Anbar province - during the initial Baghdad invasion in March 2003, and I MEF's return to Iraq in February 2004.

Marines and sailors with the 1st MLG will return to Iraq for a year-long deployment in the upcoming weeks when a forward element of the I Marine Expeditionary Force resumes operations in the volatile Al Anbar Province.

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