Retirement ceremony takes place at CarolinaEast

When Marine Master Sgt. Norman Hagel retired after 20 years of service, he didn’t expect to do the ceremony in a wheel chair, seated in a hospital auditorium.

Hagel, an Ohio native, retired from the Corps last week. Ordinarily his ceremony would have been on base at Cherry Point, but he developed a serious abdominal infection that put him in CarolinaEast Medical Center in New Bern.

Knowing that he had family arriving for the ceremony and that Hagel was anxious to get back to Tampa, Fla., where he will live as soon as he is discharged from the hospital, his retiring officer and company commander, Capt. Matthew Evers, decided to just have the ceremony at CarolinaEast.

Megan McGarvey, public relations director for the hospital, said that such a ceremony had never happened at the hospital.

“We’ve done weddings, we’ve done baptisms, but this is the first time we’ve done a Marine Corps retirement,” she said. “It’s a great honor.”

The ceremony was Friday and included a table loaded with a cake and other snacks and a six-piece Marine band. Flags lined the entire hall on one side. About 100 people attended, most Marines. Some hospital representatives and friends of Hagel attended as well.

Hagel was dressed in uniform but was in a wheelchair that was brought onto stage by a fellow Marine for the ceremony.

Hagel received a number of commendations, including a Commendation Medal for Meritorious Service.

While addressing Hagel and the audience, Evers noted that he would be missed, “especially how loud he is,” he joked. “His boisterous laugh is one of the most contagious things.”

He added, “If you’ve ever been in formation and heard Master read a promotion warrant, it’s probably one of the most motivating things that you will hear. It actually gave me a little chill.”

He also called attention to Hagel’s “genuine care for each and every person under your charge.”

After the ceremony, Evers referred to Hagel as “exceptional — one of the finest master sergeants I’ve ever served with.”

Hagel gave a speech that was humorous but sincere, and at times had to pause to keep from tearing up. He started by thanking the hospital for its care.

During his talk, he thanked his parents and his fellow Marines, and told how a life in the Corps had given him a much-needed sense of discipline and honor.

He spent most of his talk thanking his family. “I don’t know why she married me,” he said of his wife, but “I’m the luckiest guy in the world to have her.” Of his two daughters, he said, they were the reason that he worked every day and were the source of his energy.

He said that military wives have one of the hardest jobs, but added his own hardships regarding duty over family. “I’ve missed birthdays, holidays, school recitals, anniversaries,” he said.

He told his fellow Marines that he would miss the service, although he admitted after the ceremony that he felt “great” about his retirement.

Concluding the program, he said, “To my fellow Marines, I thank you, and Semper Fidelis.”