Four sergeants major of the Marine Corps gather on birthday


Retired Sergeants Major of the Marine Corps Henry Black, Harold Overstreet and Gary Lee with Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent, the Corps' current top enlisted adviser. (Photos by Gunnery Sgt. Fred Zimmerman/Marine Corps)

Have party, will deliver.

For the second consecutive year, the Marine Corps’ top enlisted adviser traveled from the Pentagon to Fredericksburg, Va., on the service’s Nov. 10 birthday to visit retired Sgt. Maj. Henry Black, 81, the seventh sergeant major of the Marine Corps.

Sgt. Maj. Carlton Kent cuts some birthday cake.

“We take care of our own,” Kent said in a Marine Corps news release. “We take great pride in our legacy, and ensuring the Marines who’ve gone before us have a proper celebration is the right thing to do. Being able to share a night of camaraderie with warriors such as Sgt. Maj. Black motivates me and was an honor.”

Black served as the Corps’ top enlisted adviser from 1975 to 1977. He earned a Silver Star and Bronze Star in the Korean War as a junior Marine, and later served as the first sergeant of Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 1st Marines, out of Camp Pendleton, Calif., during the Vietnam War.

Black shared several stories with the visiting Marines, including one about the Korean War, the Corps said. He recalled marching in extreme cold with fellow Marines, and stopping to huddle around a burning tire they found while marching. They then observed there was an unexploded grenade sitting in the middle.


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I'm a senior writer with Marine Corps Times, covering ground warfare, manpower, weapons acquisition and other beats. I embedded in Afghanistan in spring 2010, and plan to return at least once in 2011.

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