LAEM CHABANG PORT, Kingdom of Thailand -- U.S. Marines and Sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit welcomed Sergeant Major Douglas Gerhardt at a relief and appointment ceremony aboard amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6), March 11, 2020.
During the ceremony, Sergeant Major Edwin A. Mota, outgoing 31st MEU Sergeant Major, turned the Sword of Office over to Sergeant Major Douglas Gerhardt, to symbolize the transfer of duty and responsibility from one Sergeant Major to the next. Colonel Robert Brodie, 31st MEU commanding officer, expressed his appreciation for the example that Mota set for all MEU Marines during his time at the MEU.
“I am super excited for your future, Sergeant Major, and I know how much you are going to achieve,” said Brodie. “This is what right looks like Marines, this is what you should strive for.”
Mota assumed duty as the 31st MEU Sergeant Major on April 27, 2018. As Sergeant Major, he served as the senior enlisted advisor to the 31st MEU commanding officer, ensuring troop welfare and serving as a vital link between enlisted Marines and their commanding officer.
“Every day we wake up, put the uniform on, and do Marine Corps,” said Mota, “Every single day I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given.”
During his two-year tour Mota helped lead the MEU through four patrols of the Indo-Pacific. His tenure saw the 31st MEU participate in a series of multilateral exercises, including Exercise Talisman Saber in Australia, Cobra Gold in Thailand, and a Defense Support to Civil Authorities relief mission on the island of Tinian, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, in the wake of typhoon Yutu.
Gerhardt previously served at a reserve unit in Massachusetts as the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines Inspector-Instructor Sergeant Major.
“I’m excited to join this tight-knit family of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit,” said Gerhardt. “I am also grateful for the opportunity to continue to serve alongside the Marines and Sailors of this MEU as we remain in a posture of readiness as the premier crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific.”
America, flagship of the America Expeditionary Strike Group, 31st MEU team, is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations to enhance interoperability with allies and partners and serve as a ready response force to defend peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.