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Sgt. Maj. Keith Coombs accepts the non-commissioned officer’s sword from Lt. Col. Todd Simmons, battalion commander, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, during a ceremony appointing him the battalion sergeant major at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field March 18, 2011.::r::::n::

Photo by Diane Durden

First Team welcomes new top enlisted

25 Mar 2011 | Diane Durden

The Marines and sailors of 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, marched onto Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field to welcome Sgt. Maj. Keith W. Coombs and bid farewell to Sgt. Jam. Paron A. Lewis during the unit’s relief and appointment ceremony March 18, 2011.

Coombs, who is coming to the Combat Center from 9th Engineer Support Battalion, Okinawa, Japan, said he is happy and honored to be with 7th Marines.

“I’m looking forward to being with 1/7 and being back in Twentynine Palms again,” said Coombs when speaking with the battalion after the passing the sword portion of the ceremony.

The passing of the sword from the outgoing to the incoming sergeant major signifies the transfer of this sacred position, entrusting the new sergeant major with the care of the unit’s Marines.

Coombs, from Vernon, N.Y., brings with him recent and very relevant operational experience, said Lt. Col. Todd Simmons, First Team’s battalion commander.

“You’re the right man at the right time for this unit, to help us prep for the next time we have to go outside the wire,” Simmons said.

Welcoming one sergeant major meant saying good-bye to another. Simmons thanked Lewis, from Kansas City, Kan., for his leadership and mentorship to the battalion.

“You were my personal backbone, my right arm, a great friend and mentor,” Simmons said. “You were the one constant for every success First Team has had over the last three years.”

Lewis, who is reporting to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 16, Miramar, Calif., thanked everyone for their support throughout his time with the battalion. He then wished the Marines he served with a special goodbye.

“Go forth and do great things,” Lewis said. “I’ll be looking from afar.”


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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms