USMC Retired Sgt. Major Always Operates On Semper Fi
by U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jareka Curtis
March 29, 2022
“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 conversation.”
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.
Now 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.
Hollings’ 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 Marines chest.
“The pride you feel. The impact you can still make.”
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