Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Gorry (left) commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, congratulates Sgt. Maj. Ernest K. Hoopii, sergeant major of MCI East – MCB Camp Lejeune, on being awarded with the Bronze Star award for his efforts while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Feb. 18 2011 to Feb. 29 2012. Gorry coordinated the ceremony be done at morning colors, because he said the raising of the flag represents what service members fight for, and it makes for a perfect setting for an award ceremony of this caliber.
By LANCE CPL. SCOTT WHITTING
Sgt. Maj. Ernest K. Hoopii, sergeant major of Marine Corps Installations East – Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, was awarded the Bronze Star aboard MCB Camp Lejeune, Aug. 31 on the quarterdeck of Building 1.
Brig. Gen. Thomas A. Gorry, commanding general of MCI East – MCB Camp Lejeune, presented Hoopii with the award as the citation was read by Sgt. Maj. Michael Rowan, sergeant major of Headquarters and Support Battalion.
“It’s an honor and privilege anytime you get to recognize someone with an award like this,” said Gorry. “This one is particularly humbling, because it is a combat award. The citation is a direct reflection of [Hoopii’s] leadership and guidance in a difficult time.”
The citation stated Hoopii served as the sergeant major for Regimental Combat Team 5, 1st Marine Division (forward), II Marine Expeditionary Force (forward) from Feb. 18, 2011 to Feb. 29, 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During that time, Hoopii traveled thousands of miles on more than 200 mounted and dismounted patrols to visit the Marines, sailors and soldiers in the RCT battle space. He visited these service members to ensure a high level of well-being, safety, morale, conduct and professionalism were all maintained, which helped to minimize disciplinary issues within the commands. As a result of this, the commands were able to focus on the mission at hand and keep pressure on the insurgency.
He also visited Camp Dwyer, which sustained more than 5,000 personnel supporting combat operations in the Central Helmond River Valley. During his stay there, he fostered a team spirit among the regiment, contractors, civilian employees and sister services, which helped increase cooperation among the personnel and acted as a combat multiplier for all units in the area.
“Sgt. Maj. Hoopii’s distinctive contributions, unrelenting perseverance and steadfast devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and United States Naval Service,” read Rowan from Hoopii’s official citation.
“I’m so humbled to receive this award,” said Hoopii. “[Gorry] suggested we do the ceremony on the quarterdeck in front of our Marines and I thought it was a brilliant idea.”
Gorry also coordinated the event be done right at morning colors.
“I wanted to do it at morning colors because the raising of the flag represents what we stand for,” said Gorry. “It represents the nation and I couldn’t ask for a better setting for [Hoopii].”
After receiving his award, Hoopii thanked everyone who attended the event and said he was doing what Marines do best: their job.