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Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan


Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan

MCAS Iwakuni is a mission-ready air station, capable of providing continuous base-operating support for tenant organizations and follow-on U.S. and allied forces during training, combat or contingency (HA/DR) operations throughout the Indo-Asia Pacific region.
MCAS Iwakuni gives a warm sayonara to Sgt. Maj. Garza

By Cpl. Carlos Jimenez | Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan | February 8, 2018

U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Christopher J. Garza relinquished his post as sergeant major of Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, during a relief ceremony here, Feb. 8, 2018.

Since assuming his post in September 2015, Garza has helped lead and oversee MCAS Iwakuni’s exponential growth in both size and population. His hard-charging and outspoken Texan attitude has garnered him the respect and admiration of his subordinates, peers and seniors alike.

“Garza has been a steadying influence on the Marines, sailors and civilians on MCAS Iwakuni during a period of unprecedented growth,” said U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. John Harris, executive officer of MCAS Iwakuni. “The air station has grown literally and figuratively during his tenure, and as a result, has placed increased stress on the staff and everyone who works or lives here due to the near-constant change in and demands on services. Garza has a knack for keeping people focused on what’s really important and injecting humor into those occasions when things don’t go as planned.”

He will be leaving the air station in bigger and better shape than it was in when he arrived, but he does not attribute this success to himself.

“It’s been on the backs of the Marines, sailors, civilians and Japanese employees here,” said Garza. “They’re the ones who have contributed to pushing Iwakuni to the next level.”

Throughout his career, Garza has received many personal awards, including the Bronze Star with two Combat V’s and one Gold Star, Purple Heart, Meritorious Service Medal with two Gold Stars, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one Gold Star, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with two Gold Stars, and Combat Action Ribbon with one Gold Star.

As Garza leaves Japan, he knows he did his part in progressing and strengthening the critical bond between the air station and the Japanese community.

Headed to Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, he is set to assume the post as sergeant major for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, where he is expected to continue the hard work that has led him so far in his Marine Corps career.

“MCAS Iwakuni’s loss is 24th MEU’s gain,” said Harris. “24th MEU gains a motivating sergeant major that possesses uncommon insight into tactical and operational expertise, political-military relationships and ‘why things are the way they are,’ due to his tenure here at MCAS Iwakuni.”

For his incoming replacement, Garza’s primary advice is to take an interest in the people around him, and he advises him to get out and learn the inner-workings of the station and to be there for the community.

Garza said he is thankful for the hard work the Marines put in to support and improve the air station and that their work has not gone unnoticed. Most importantly, he said he will always remember the friends and family he made during his time here.

“Iwakuni has been, by far, my favorite duty station in the Marine Corps,” said Garza. “I will always remember it, and it will always have a place in my heart.”