USMC Retired Sgt. Major Always Operates On Semper Fi
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jareka Curtis
“Semper Fidelis” is the motto every United
States Marine lives by from the moment they are handed the emblem of
the Marine Corps, the eagle, globe, and anchor, and for rest of
their life. “Always Faithful, Always Marine” is a small phrase
carried with great pride by retired Sgt. Maj. Robert Hollings.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Robert Hollings
(inset upper left), a former depot sergeant major of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, with his wife retired Sgt. Maj. Suzie Hollings, a former Papa Company sergeant major, at MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina
in December 2005. Mr. and Mrs. Hollings both served as sergeants major on Parris Island simultaneously. (Image
created by USA Patriotism! from courtesy photo provided by Robert Hollings.)
In 1979, Hollings enlisted in the Marines at 17 years old. He
grew up in Macclenny, Florida with a population of just under four
thousand. “I didn’t know the world outside of that small town,” said
Hollings. “I was so sheltered, I was enclosed in that small
environment.” As a young man, he didn’t want to spend his life
wondering what else the world had to offer.
In high school,
he was a popular, passionate and driven football athlete with plans
to continue his career at Florida State University. During his
senior year, he was ready to take on the world and get out of
Macclenny. Unfortunately, a broken hand would impede on his football
career. Hollings' next ambition was to become a highway patrol
officer after high school, but he realized he was too young, and he
needed a different plan.
Hollings was also a gifted student;
faculty within the superintendent’s office found he was one of only
a few students who knew how to type, and in the 70s, that was an
impressive skill. While working in the office as a clerk typist, a
recruiter of the Marine Corps stopped by to pick up paperwork.
“That’s the first time I ever laid eyes on a Marine in uniform,”
said Hollings. Master Sgt. Woodard was already impressed with the
young Hollings and felt he would easily find a place in the Marines.
“After talking to him, I was very impressed. I wanted to leave,
I wanted to do something different, I wanted to get out of there,”
explained Hollings. “He offered so many things to me, and I was
impressed that for the very first time somebody talked to me about
wanting to join the military.”
On July 22, 1979, Hollings
began training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South
Carolina, the beginning of 31 years, two months, and 18 days of
service. In 2004, Hollings would return back to his roots and take
command as the Sergeant Major of Parris Island, until 2006. On May
21, 2010, Hollings retired after serving as the Sergeant Major of
3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, in Okinawa,
Japan. As sergeant major, Hollings served as the senior enlisted
advisor assisting the commanding officers at each unit he was a part
of. He was responsible for matters of discipline, administration,
and the morale and welfare of each unit.
“You meet so many
good people, and they will always be a part of your life,” said
Hollings. “I don’t have to think about all the good people that I
met in my short 31 years. They are like a shining star; they are
always my friends, and they are always someone I can talk to and
lean on. No matter what rank I was, we can always go back and have a
Hollings' three decades of honorable service
in the Marine Corps went by quickly for him. Although he intended to
get out and pursue his dream of becoming a Florida highway patrol
officer, it was the other Marines serving alongside him that kept
him motivated and dedicated. His wife and children’s support through
his career made the journey worth it, and the community is what
keeps Hollings serving.
Retired U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Robert Hollings, a former depot sergeant major of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, poses with his wife, retired Sgt. Maj. Suzie Hollings, and children by the May River in Bluffton, South Carolina, July 2019. Mr. and Mrs. Hollings both served as sergeants major on Parris Island simultaneously in 2005. (Courtesy photo provided by Robert Hollings)
“Always Faithful, Always Marine”
lives within the men and women working to uphold the standards set
by the Marine Corps. Whether they are still wearing the uniform or
if they put it away, the values stay with Marines forever. Hollings’
positive outlook during his service promoted a long and fulfilling
career alongside his wife, who also retired as a sergeant major.
“My husband exemplifies 'Always Faithful, Always Marine' within
our household by always setting and maintaining the highest of
standards for himself, in terms of work ethic, following through
with responsibilities, and demonstrating through his actions his
level of commitment to me and our children,” said retired Sgt. Maj.
Suzie Hollings. “He always puts the needs of us before his own. He
has always sacrificed his personal time to coach our children in
every sport that they have participated in throughout their lives.”
Mrs. Hollings has known her husband for 23 years, and they
have been married for nearly 18. She also served as an active duty
Marine from February 1992 to June 2014. Mr. and Mrs. Hollings
continue to serve their communities, embracing “Semper Fi” in
everything they do.
“Although retired, my husband continues
to live by our Marine Corps values of honor, courage, and
commitment. He continues to work side by side with his fellow
Marines, offering them his guidance, knowledge, and wisdom along the
way,” said Mrs. Hollings.
After serving as an active duty
Marine, Hollings continues to work in the military on government
contract as the 6th Marine Corps District Mission Assurance Manager.
“I manage all the programs that fall under mission assurance,” he
said, “Those programs are antiterrorism, force protection, physical
security, active shooter, and destructive weather.” Hollings has
held his position for 12 years, returning to Parris Island again in
2010, this time as a civilian, but staying connected to whom he
still considers his brothers and sisters in arms.
Hollings spends his time volunteering within his community and with
his children. He dedicates most of his time as the head softball
coach for the local high school and middle school, the assistant
coach for his daughters basketball team, and the clay shooting high
school coach. Hollings is also a board member for a mission outreach
through his church, helping to provide for Christians globally. He
makes important decisions and travels to give back to his Christian
community all around the world in times of need.
faith and loyalty to the Corps and his community further proves the
spirit of Semper Fidelis lives within all Marines, for all time. To
always stay faithful to the title forever engrained on every loyal
“The pride you feel. The impact you can
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