ARLINGTON, Virginia — Sgt. Daisy Swiney, 21, said she enlisted in the Marine Corps to give herself a better future.

The Kennesaw, Georgia, native worked hard in her role as a food service specialist, she said.

“First one in, last one out, just staying focused.”

Now she’s the legal chief and national color bearer — tasked with carrying the American flag and calling commands for the color guard — for Combat Logistics Regiment 27, part of 2nd Marine Logistics Group, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.

And on Thursday, she reenlisted, in a ceremony that was unusual for a few reasons.

For starters, it took place 78 years after the raising of the flag atop Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan, below the sculpture in Arlington that immortalized that moment in bronze. Gen. Eric Smith, the assistant Marine commandant, led the ceremony.

Swiney was one of 58 Marines from 2nd Marine Logistics Group to reenlist, according to Marine spokeswoman 1st Lt. Nicole McDougall. And all of them were reenlisting early.

“You’re young,” Smith told the rows of Marines assembled at the foot of the Marine Corps War Memorial. “You could have done anything, but you decided to be a Marine.”

The assistant commandant highlighted the bonuses the Marines were getting for reenlisting, though he stressed, “It’s not about the money.”

Smith had said at a conference earlier in February, in the context of enlistment bonuses, “Your bonus is that you get to call yourself a Marine” — which didn’t go over well with many Marines who posted on social media about their own frustrations with pay.

Smith has since emphasized that he wants people who already are Marines to get bonuses, but he thinks recruits need to earn the title of Marine first. He reiterated that distinction at the reenlistment ceremony.

One of the assistant commandant’s top priorities has been the Corps’ personnel overhaul, known as Talent Management 2030. A main goal of the overhaul is to boost retention, in part by making the reenlistment process easier and more attractive.

The early reenlistment program lets Marines who are a few years into their first contracts sign up now (and receive reenlistment bonuses now) for four more years of service, plus the remaining time in their first contracts. To qualify for the program, Marines need positive recommendations from their commanding officer.

Smith told Marine Corps Times after the ceremony that it was the first time he had reenlisted that many Marines at once, and the first time he had reenlisted Marines through the early reenlistment program.

Before leading the Marines through the oath of enlistment, Smith instructed them to raise their right hands at 90-degree angles and shout their responses loudly enough to be heard in the apartment buildings nearby.

Afterward, the dozens of reenlisted Marines and the general formed a huddle by the base of the monument.

“For me, that was fun,” Smith told Marine Corps Times about the ceremony. “I’m fired up.”

The temperature was in the high 70s — unusually balmy for February in northern Virginia. Though 2nd Marine Logistics Group is part of II Marine Expeditionary Force and headquartered at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the reenlisting Marines were in the area for a three-day educational field trip.

Swiney told Marine Corps Times that she is planning to reenlist again once her next enlistment is up, but she is taking it day by day. Before then, in July 2024, Swiney will report to drill instructor school, something she has wanted to do for a long time.

“There’s just something about being a Marine, but making them — that’s just a whole nother level,” she said.

She first considered enlisting when, as a ninth grader in junior ROTC, she had a naval science instructor who is a retired Marine first sergeant. He inspired her to learn more about the Marine Corps, Swiney said.

She’s still in touch with him, keeping him posted on her journey in the Marine Corps, including her reenlistment.

“He’s emotional, but he’s very proud,” Swiney said.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

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