MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Marines serving with 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion stood at attention as Sgt. Maj. Michael P. Woods took over as sergeant major of the battalion for Sgt. Maj. Clifford Wiggins at a relief and appointment ceremony here, Aug. 23.
Relief and appointment ceremonies are one of the many traditions upheld in the Marine Corps today, which involves the passing of the noncommissioned officer sword from the outgoing sergeant major to the oncoming.
The passing of the sword signifies the transfer of responsibility and entails the transfer of total accountability and authority, from one senior enlisted Marine to another. The sword thus continues as the personification of military tradition and is entrusted to those most responsible for maintaining it.
“There’s no other sergeant major that I would rather relieve than Sgt. Maj. Wiggins,” said Woods, a native of Kansas City, Mo. “He’s an outstanding Marine and outstanding man. Any organization he has been affiliated with I have beyond a shadow of a doubt every reason to believe that it is 100 percent professional.”
Woods said he plans to keep the Marines of 3rd AABn. highly disciplined, proficient and ready to do whatever the Marine Corps and the nation needs, regardless of the mission.
Wiggins, a native of Cincinnati, is now slated to become the sergeant major of 5th Marine Regiment.
“It’s bittersweet because my time here at 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion has fulfilled every desire and goal I’ve had,” Wiggins said. “The Marines here in this battalion are superior. These Marines are hard working, have great attitudes and are motivated. They not only care about being great Marines, but they are very passionate about the assault amphibian community.
“Each and every day I have donned this uniform, I was in awe of the performance of these Marines,” Wiggins added. “It didn’t matter if it was an individual augment mission or if it was transporting a ground combat element from a naval shipping to shore, I could always count on these Marines to give 1,000 percent. It sends chills up my spine to see that our Corps and our nation is in good hands with these Marines.”
During the course of his 21-year career, Woods served with several tank and infantry battalions, completed a tour as a drill instructor and deployed overseas and to combat zones on numerous occasions.
“I couldn’t be more honored and humbled to be a part of this elite organization with a history that is one to be very proud of,” Woods said.
The battalion was originally activated Sept. 16, 1942. Since its founding, the battalion has been an active force during World War II, the Vietnam War, Southwest Asia, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Iraq and Afghanistan.