MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. (Jan. 20, 2012) --
Sgt. Maj. Thomas Sherwood passed on his duties as sergeant major of Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point to Sgt. Maj. Holly C. Prafke Jan. 20 during a relief and appointment ceremony on the air station parade field.
Marines, friends and family joined Sherwood and Prafke for the 10 a.m. ceremony, enduring a minor Carolina chill for the traditional passing of the squadron's sword, symbolizing the duties of the outgoing sergeant major being passed off to the incoming.
"The fact is nothing on this base would get accomplished without H&HS Marines," said Sherwood, who served as the squadron's sergeant major for nearly two years.
"He's undertaken the burdensome task, but the great task, the important task of getting to know each and every one of the elements of H&HS – made up of about 900 members," said Lt. Col. Samuel P. Mowery, H&HS commanding officer.
The squadron has elements throughout the air station, from the Marines on the flight line at aircraft rescue firefighting and air traffic control, to the Marines of the provost marshal's office who man the gates.
"This squadron has its DNA on just about everything that happens on this station," said Sherwood. "We run this base, as well as the air space."
This was Sherwood's first tour serving with a wing unit, and he credits all of the squadron's success to the staff noncommissioned officers in each section and the Marines they support.
"These are Marines performing the mission they were assigned, and they're performing it magnificently," he said. "It doesn’t matter where you are – the wing, the infantry – they're all warriors at heart and want to serve their country."
Sherwood is moving on to what will be his second wing unit, where he will serve as the sergeant major of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29 at MCAS New River.
"We're going to miss your physical presence," said Mowery. "Today just reminds us that we have to embrace change."
Prafke comes from serving as the sergeant major of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 3, an EA-6B Prowler squadron aboard the air station, and she has previously served with H&HS as the director of the Corporal's Course leadership school.
"It's good to have you back and we welcome you with open arms," said Mowery. "Your professional reputation precedes you."
Prafke said she is excited to pick up where Sherwood left off and looks forward to the unique challenges the station's biggest squadron presents.
"It's going to be fast-paced but I'm ready to go," she said. "I'm ready to work for and serve the Marines of this squadron."