MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — Sgt. Maj. Bradley Kasal became the top enlisted leader of I 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Wednesday, taking over from Sgt. Maj. Ronald Green, who will become the next
Mmajor of the Marine Corps. It marked a transfer of leadership between two of the service's best-known enlisted Marines in some
twoof the most influential positions in the Corps.
Their posts puts the two men in prime positions to influence young enlisted Marines as well as senior officers, said Brig. Lt. Gen. David Berger, I 1MEF's commanding general er, said.
"These two sergeants major are great examples for the rest of us, officers or enlisted," Berger said during the ceremony. "They just set the personal example in everything that they do, we want to be like them." Berger said during a ceremony.
Berger said that Green, aAs a senior enlisted adviser, Berger said Green has a professional way of coaching top officers that teaches them "how to grow up." It's a skill the rest of the Corps will benefit from when he becomes the sergeant major of the Marine Corps later this month, he Berger said.
Green said he tries to stress to young Marines that their leaders support them.
"We tell them that we got their back," Green said. "That's what we tell them because tomorrow we might be in the fight."
The Marine who replaced Green as I MEF's sergeant major relieved byis one of the most-discussed leaders Marines in the modern Corps. Kasal, a Navy Cross recipient, joins I MEF1MEF from the top-enlisted billet at 4th Marine Division. He was a popular pick among Marines to become the next sergeant major of the Marine Corps before criteria for the job was released that appeared to take him out of the running.
Kasal, in his brief remarks during the ceremony here, praised Marines with his new unit for their work.
"To all the Marines and sailors of the I MEF, I thank you for what you do," he said. "I thank you for creating hate and discontent among the bad guys around the world, and I'm truly humbled to work for you and serve beside you."
Kasal rose to Marine Corps fame for his perseverance in a gritty firefight in the Battle of Fallujah in November 2004. According to his Navy Cross citation the citation for the Navy Cross he received, Kasal, then who was then a first sergeant, was on a mission when a firefight broke out. Marines rushed out of a house, but Kasal learned that some Marines were still pinned down inside.
Kasal joined a squad to clear the building and was later wounded alongside another Marine. Even though his legs were immobilized, Kasal continued to fight and encouraged other Marines to clear the building. Eventually a wounded Kasal was carried out of the building to safety, a pistol and KaA-Bar knife in hand.
War photographer Lucian Read snapped a picture of Kasal as he was carried out of the building. The photo became one of the defining images of the war in Iraq and, in particular, Marines and the Battle of Fallujah.
Sgt. Maj. Anthony Spadaro, the top enlisted Marine at Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North, regularly worked with Kasal during his time at 4th MarDiv. While he's known for his heroism and toughness in Fallujah, Kasal has an extremely personable and warm side that typically doesn't get as much attention in the history books, Spadaro said.
Spadaro also worked with Green.
"Ron Green, his personality could fill the depth of the area right here," Spadaro said while standing by a parade field.
Both Marines, despite their long lists of accomplishments and influential billets, are very easy to build a rapport with and like working with young Marines and sailors, Spadaro said. Unlike other senior leaders that some service members try and avoid in order to prevent confrontations, Green and Kasal these two sergeants major are consistently well-received by the Marines working under them, he said.
"Marines come up to them," Spadaro said. "They can trust them, they're approachable."
While the ceremony marked a change in leadership, Kasal said he still has loose ends to tie up in New Orleans before he relocates to California 1MEF at Camp Pendleton. Green will become the 18th sergeant major of the Marine Corps on Feb. 20 in a ceremony in Washington D.C. Gen. Joseph Dunford, the commandant of the Marine Corps, selected Green for the top-enlisted job in January.
A Marine for 31 years, Green trained as an artilleryman, has been stationed in Japan, worked in the nuclear artillery battalion, and served as a drill instructor at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina, in the early 1990s. He became a gunnery sergeant in 1997 and first sergeant three years later. He became a sergeant major in 2004, and was the senior enlisted Marine at Marine Corps Forces Europe and Marine Corps Forces Africa before joining I MEF.