Originally Posted By KA3B:
SERGEANT MAJOR’S LETTER
As the command sergeant major for Joint Task Force-Haiti, I am humbled and proud to represent all the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guards men serving in support of Operation Unified Response.
I have served aboard many ships in my more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. I am very familiar with the century-old tradition of segregating the mess between officers and enlisted on the ship.
It’s time for a change. It’s time the Navy abolishes this tradition.
Recently, I accompanied the commander of the JTF-Haiti, Army Lt. Gen. Ken Keen, to a senior leaders conference on one of our ships. The purpose of the gathering of leaders was to discuss lessons learned and lay the foundation for the way ahead. A day before the conference, I had been asked by officers aboard the ship to join the enlisted service members on the ship. I didn’t. Instead, I ate dinner with my commander and the other flag and senior officers.
During my career, I have dined with numerous flag officers and dignitaries, but this is the first time I’ve ever felt like a “second class” leader.
I have served with both the Army and Air Force over my career, and neither of these branches of service practices this separation. The benefits I see of breaking bread together with officers and enlisted is that it builds cohesion and contributes to the esprit de corps of the unit.
Today, I serve because I love being a Marine. I get the satisfaction of knowing that every day I have the opportunity to make an impact on the life of a future leader. But as a senior enlisted leader at U.S.
Southern Command and JTF-Haiti, I have the responsibility to all those I lead and represent to stand up and voice my concerns when I feel a correction is needed, or an injustice is being committed.
This tradition of segregating the mess is not in keeping with our American values; it’s time the Navy abolishes this age-old tradition and allows all sailors and Marines, officers and enlisted, aboard the ship to dine as one. We are all warriors and brothers-in-arms; break down this barrier that symbolizes segregation and division. It’s time to make this tradition a thing of the past.
Sgt. Maj. Louis Espinal
U.S. Southern Command/Joint Task Force-Haiti