Military Wiki
John L. Estrada
Place of birth Trinidad and Tobago
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1973 - 2007
Rank Sergeant Major
Commands held Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps

Persian Gulf War
Operation Southern Watch
Iraq War

Awards Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze Star
This article is about the 15th Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps. For the Filipino actor, see John Estrada.

John L. Estrada was the 15th Sergeant Major of the United States Marine Corps. He succeeded Alford L. McMichael on June 26, 2003, becoming the 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps.[1][2] Estrada stepped down on April 25, 2007, turning over the post to SgtMaj Carlton Kent. Estrada retired from the Marine Corps in June 2007, after over 34 years of service.[3][4]

Early life

Estrada is originally from the country of Trinidad and Tobago; at the age of 12, he immigrated to the United States.


Estrada enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps on September 19, 1973, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina. After completing F-4 aircraft maintenance schools at Naval Air Station (NAS), Memphis, Tennessee and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Private First Class Estrada was assigned to VMFA-451 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in March 1974.

In December 1974, Lance Corporal Estrada was transferred to VMFA-232, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. He was meritoriously promoted to Corporal in March 1975.

In February 1976, Sergeant Estrada served with VMFAT-101, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. In September 1977, he transferred to VMFA-314, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA. Reassigned to VMFA-323 in December 1978, he deployed with the squadron in November 1979 for 7 months aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf. In June 1980, Staff Sergeant Estrada transferred to VMFA-321, Marine Aircraft Group 41, Detachment "A" at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

In August 1982, Staff Sergeant Estrada was ordered to Drill Instructor Duty at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California where he served with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. He was meritoriously promoted to Gunnery Sergeant in January 1984. In October 1984, Gunnery Sergeant Estrada returned to MCAS Beaufort, SC for duty with VMFA-251 as the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the Airframes Division. In November 1985, he was reassigned to VMFA-451 and deployed to the Western Pacific from January to July 1986 under the Unit Deployment Program. From January to March 1987, Gunnery Sergeant Estrada attended aircraft maintenance schools at Naval Air Station Cecil Field and Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida retraining as an FA-18 Hornet Hydraulic/Structural Mechanic.

Estrada orating to fellow U.S. Marines in Fallujah, Iraq.

In October 1987, Gunnery Sergeant Estrada returned to Drill Instructor duty, this time at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina. He served as Series Chief Drill Instructor with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and subsequently as Standing Operations Procedures Instructor and Drill Master at Drill Instructor School until his promotion to First Sergeant in October 1990.

From December 1990 to March 1995, First Sergeant Estrada served as First Sergeant for Intelligence Company, 3rd Surveillance Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan; Marine Security Force Company, Norfolk, Virginia; Electronics Maintenance Company, 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton; and Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton.

From March 1995 to May 1998, Sergeant Major Estrada served as Sergeant Major for 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton; and deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) to the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf.

In May 1998, Sergeant Major Estrada assumed the duties as Sergeant Major for Recruiting Station Sacramento, California in the 12th Marine Corps District, Western Recruiting Region. From April 2000 to October 2001, Sergeant Major Estrada was assigned as Sergeant Major, Recruit Training Regiment, MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina.

From December 2001 to May 2003, Sergeant Major Estrada served as the Sergeant Major, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. During this assignment, he was forward deployed and participated in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sergeant Major Estrada assumed his post as the 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on 26 June 2003.[2] [5]

On April 25, 2007, SgtMaj Estrada stepped down from his post as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, turning over the post to Sgt Major Carlton Kent.[6] Estrada was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for his service and retired from the Marine Corps in June 2007.[6]

On July 30, 2013 President Obama nominated Estrada to be the next United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, the country of Estrada's birth.[7]

Personal life

Estrada formally endorsed U.S. Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States during a rally at Battery Creek High School in Beaufort, South Carolina on January 24, 2008.[8] On August 28, 2008, Estrada spoke at the Democratic National Convention, echoing his support for Barack Obama over John McCain, citing his "obligation... to protect the Marines, sailors and their families." [9]

Estrada now works for Lockheed Martin, as well as serving on the board of directors for Operation Homefront[10] and the American Battle Monuments Com­mission.[11]

Awards and honors

Estrada's personal awards include:

Gold star
Gold star
Gold star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Bronze star
Silver star
Bronze star
Bronze star
1st Row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Bronze Star Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ 3 award stars
2nd Row Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal Joint Service Achievement Medal Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal Navy Presidential Unit Citation
3rd Row Navy Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 4 service stars Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 10 service stars Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
4th Row National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 1 service star Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
5th Row Global War on Terrorism Service Medal Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 5 service stars Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon w/ 2 service stars


See also


  1. Rocke, Cpl. Ethan E. (June 30, 2003). "New Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps posts". Marine Corps News. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Sgt. Maj. of Marine Corps sword of office changes hands". Division of Public Affairs, United States Marine Corps. July 2, 2003. Release # 0703-03-0537. Retrieved 2007-01-24. 
  3. Hoellwarth, John (April 26, 2007). "Kent becomes top enlisted Marine". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 2007-04-25. 
  4. "Sergeant Major John L. Estrada, USMC (Retired)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. Retrieved 2007-12-25. 
  5. Obama Campaign (March 2, 2008). "Senior Military Leadership in Support of Senator Obama". Barack Obama for President. Retrieved 2008-08-30. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 Beth Zimmerman (April 10, 2007). "Kent to replace Estrada on April 25". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 2007-04-10. 
  8. Andrew Tilghman (March 7, 2008). "Estrada campaigns for Sen. Barack Obama". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 2008-03-11. 
  9. "2008 Democratic National Convention: Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by John Estrada, From Orlando, Florida - the Highest Ranking Enlisted Marine". Yahoo News. Yahoo. Retrieved 2008-08-30. [dead link]
  10. "Nonprofit Taps Sgt Maj". Marine Corps Times. Dec 21, 2009. pp. 8. 
  11. "New Role for 15th SMMC". Marine Corps Times. July 5, 2010. p. 7. 


This article incorporates text in the public domain from U.S. Government agencies.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Alford L. McMichael
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Carlton W. Kent

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