Sgt. Maj. Dennis W. Reed, Marine Corps Combat Development Center sergeant major, is scheduled to close the door on his 32 years of service in the Marine Corps on Friday at 10 a.m., on Lejeune Field.
Reed’s military career covered many changes in the Marine Corps and included many different billets on both the ground- and wing-sides of the Corps. It started in April 1980 when he went to Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, Calif. From recruit training he attended the Marine Corps Field Artillery School at Fort Sill, Okla.
His many billets exposed him to all sides of the Corps, but the impression he leaves the Marines who knew him has little to do with the billets he held.
Sgt. Maj. Paul McKenna, Training Command sergeant major, described Reed as “the consummate professional, wise counselor, no-nonsense, mentor, friend and, overall, a great Marine.”
“I’ve known Sgt. Maj. Reed for 15 years; his effect on the Corps can’t be quantified,” said McKenna. “His impact on Marines, both officer and enlisted, has been exponential. Sgt. Maj. Reed knows his knowledge and can talk to the general on his level and be informative, as well as, talk to privates and inspire/motivate them.
“What I admire most are his communication skills. I’m one of many who will be sad to see him go, but he’ll be in my life forever; whether he likes it or not.”
McKenna’s description of Reed was seconded by Sgt. Maj. William Skiles, special projects officer for the Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.
“I have known Sgt. Maj. Reed since 2004,” said Skiles. “He was my 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing sergeant major and I remember him being very patient with a young sergeant major who was learning. His biggest strength was his low pulse in adversity and he would think things out before any knee jerking occurred. I also appreciated how he would listen to his junior sergeants major and offer meaningful feedback, not just generic answers. To sum up Sgt. Maj. Reed in one word: dedicated.”
Reed has seen many changes throughout his career.
“The biggest improvement is the noncommissioned officers,” said Reed, who joined the Corps when it was still issuing M16A1 rifles. “Today’s NCOs are lightyears ahead; they’re better trained, better educated, more experienced — the quality of Marine has gone up.
“I’m a bit envious, the things you’re going to see are going to be amazing.”
Reed had one piece of advice: “NCOs, never forget you are here to train the officers. Lieutenants are good, but they don’t know everything.
“I’ll never forget when one of my lieutenants did something stupid and got chewed out by the commanding officer,” said Reed, who held the rank of sergeant major for 15 years. “Then the CO called me into his office and chewed me out, ‘You’re helping train him as well,’ he said. I never forgot that.”
At the close of his service in the Marine Corps, Reed intends to retire with his wife to Arizona and “take six months off and then see what happens.”
“My wife has been my strongest support,” said Reed. “She’s a prior Marine, so she understands how it works.
“One of my favorite lines from her, from when I was a first sergeant and constantly getting those late night phone calls, she would say, ‘It’s your mistress calling,’” he added with a laugh.