Sgt. Maj. Susan M. Bellis said an emotional farewell as she relinquished her post and passed the sword as sergeant major for 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing to Sgt. Maj. Christopher G. Robinson at Cherry Point on Thursday.
In leaving, Bellis asked those in attendance to rise and thank the “wonderful warriors” of the 2nd MAW.
Bellis had been sergeant major for the wing since March of 2010.
Brigadier Gen. Gary L. Thomas, commanding general of the 2nd MAW (Forward), said Bellis’ contributions have been “rich and enduring.”
“She has demonstrated tremendous leadership during a time in which the 2nd MAW has been constantly performing many of its 15,000 Marines and Sailors,” Thomas said.
“Her steady demeanor belies the profound positive impact that she has had on this wing. She has demonstrated a strong compassion for Marines across the board and she has also demonstrated a cool bearing and enthusiasm that has always been welcome particularly when things were not going as well as we would have liked. She has built strong relationships with seniors and subordinates alike and has helped build a climate of trust throughout the command. I have thoroughly appreciated her candor, her counsel and her friendship.”
After expressing many thanks, Bellis addressed about 500 attendees and about 1,000 members of the 2nd MAW who were part of a parade in her honor.
“Before I came here, an infantry general officer told me that he believed the hardest working Marines in the Marine Corps came from the Wings, and I can stand here now and tell you, I think he’s right, absolutely,” she said. “I really have done nothing. Any success that we have enjoyed is due to the almost 16,000 Marines and sailors that we have in this wing, and I’m talking from the (commanding general) down to the commanders to the senior enlisted all the way down. It’s truly their show. Nothing I say will ever be enough.”
Bellis, a 30-year veteran of the Corps, was obviously moved by the performance of those in the 2nd MAW.
“I kind of had this rehearsed and now I’m losing my mind,” Bellis said. “The big A in MAGTF. They really understand it. It’s all about the Marine that’s putting one foot in front of the other on the ground every day and the support that he needs, and nobody gets it more than 2nd MAW.”
“This is a little bit harder than I thought so what I’m going to do is sign off with Semper Fi, but what I would ask that, particularly with anybody that is not with the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, in honor of not just what you see here in front of you but more the half of the wing that is currently deployed either in harm’s way, deployed for training or even the Marines and Sailors we have in Iraq right now because we work 24 hour operations, I’d like to ask you to if you can join me and stand in thanking these wonderful warriors. Oorah.”
Following her remarks, Robinson addressed the group on the flight line at the air station.
“Very heartfelt, Sgt. Maj. Bellis, very heartfelt,” he said. “As everyone probably knows and probably already knew even before we gave a round of applause for our Marines and sailors out there that you do care. You have cared. You always cared and you made a difference.”
Earlier, Bellis welcomed Robinson back to Cherry Point.
“He is going to do great things for the wing. Change is always good. It’s what keeps the Marine Corps honest,” Bellis said.
Robinson had been based at Cherry Point three times previously.
“This is kind of a déjà vu moment for me,” he said.
“It has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with the Marines and sailors in this MAW and what it means to us. I know that because this is where I grew up in the Marine Corps, right here at 2nd MAW. So I know they will continue to do great things for the Marine Corps and for this great nation. I’m just proud and honored and blessed and I thank God every day that I can be a part of it and come back here to Cherry Point and make an impact from a broader perspective.”
Bellis’ personal decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal with two gold stars in lieu of a third award, Navy Achievement Medal with two gold stars in lieu of a third award and various other unit awards. Bellis is scheduled to retire in March.