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Retiring sergeant major Marine passes sword to replacement

By Alison Parker
Published On: Mar 28 2014 04:23:26 PM CDT
Updated On: Mar 28 2014 04:33:29 PM CDT
CAMP LEJEUNE, ONSLOW COUNTY -

The retiring sergeant major for Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune has passed the sword to the Marine taking his place.

Sergeant Maj. Paul Berry accepted the sword from former Sgt. Maj. Ernest Hoopii, who is retiring with 30 years of service in the Marine Corps.

"It's very humbling when I stand up there because I'm nobody special," Berry said. "I just represent the commanding general and support his goals and the local community."

It was an emotional experience for Hoopii.

"I've got a kaleidoscope of emotions going on," Hoopii said. "I'm going to see a room filled with people that I have befriended and loved for 30 years.

It's a position where a senior enlisted Marine oversees all installations on the East Coast.

"Your job is to be available, keep your door open, somebody is going to come see you, somebody is going to call, and they're going to have a concern, and they just don't know who to go to," Berry said.

"Our families, Marines, sailors, airmen that live on our stations need us to ensure the quality of life," Hoopii said.

Hoopii's new mission -- enjoying retirement.

"I want to start a garden, plant some fruit trees, maybe work on my tan," Hoopii laughed.

Words of wisdom for those who will one day fill Berry's shoes:

"If you can earn the title of Marine, there's nothing you can't do in life," Berry said.