This is the 35th in a series about graduates from Mountain Valley High School who are serving our country in the military.
Richard Stewart served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 22 years and is the second Stewart brother to be featured in this column.
Unlike younger brother, LTC Terry Stewart, he graduated from Mexico High School in 1981, prior to Mexico and Rumford High Schools merging to form Mountain Valley High School.
Perhaps as an older brother, Richard didn’t realize the impact his example set for his brothers, U.S. Marine Corp SSgt Clifford Stewart and U.S. Army LTC Terry Stewart. He had his own motivation for becoming a U.S. Marine and eventually attaining the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj).
SgtMaj Stewart explained his motivation, “The opportunity to serve my country and pursue an education. At the time, the Marine Corps offered me the best choice to begin my career in electronics. In addition, I had the opportunity to travel.”
He added with a smile, “And, of course, the opportunity to wear the dress blues!”
The list of his duty stations certainly includes travel – to more than 26 countries! His service at various embassies made wearing those dress blues necessary.
Stateside, SgtMaj Stewart was stationed at 29 Palms and Camp Pendleton, CA; Camp Lejeune and Cherry Point, NC; Quantico, VA; and Headquarters Marine Corp., Washington, D.C.
In addition, he served at American Embassies in Cape Town, South Africa; and Muscat, Oman; and tours to Okinawa, Japan.
SgtMaj Stewart said, “I deployed to assist with recovery efforts from the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, Lebanon in 1983.
I served in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. I trained with British Royal Marines and Brazilian Marines. I have visited 26 different countries during my military career, some nice and some not so nice! Unfortunately none were for a vacation.”
Through all that traveling, he increased his skills and responsibilities. Along the way, he earned a degree in electronics and a Master’s Certificate in Human Resource Management from Villanova University.
“At the conclusion of my career,” explained SgtMaj Stewart, “I served as the most senior personnel, training and operational advisor in the unit. I directed all human resources and personnel issues for an organization of five companies and 750 personnel. I trained, evaluated, and led employees in operations, missions and logistics functions.”
That experience and those skills served him well in civilian life at the conclusion of 22 years in the Marines.
SgtMaj Stewart listed his civilian jobs, “Since my retirement, I managed a bottled water company in New Mexico, then moved back to Maine as a human resource director. The company moved out of state and I went to work for NewPage as an order management shift leader in the shipping department. After nearly seven years at NewPage, I transferred to Verso Paper Corporation in Jay, where I currently work as the finishing and shipping supervisor.”
Along the way, he learned an important life lesson about “asset” management.
SgtMaj Stewart said, “What I learned more than anything was that the most precious asset we have in any organization, military or civilian, are our people! Without our people, equipment does not get repaired, military operations do not take place, and so much more. Put the welfare of your people equal too, or above, the mission and the mission succeeds. Put the welfare of your people last and the mission fails. This is true in any environment — military or civilian!”
Like other Marines, he urges people to support military personnel.
SgtMaj Stewart said, “Any support for our superb and exceptional service men and women who are willing to risk their lives in support of our nation would be greatly appreciated. They deserve our thanks and gratitude. This also includes the military spouses and families who do such a tremendous job in supporting their deployed family members while taking care of business at home.”
His support team includes wife, Stacie, and son, Tyler. The family lives in Mexico.
SgtMaj Stewart is the son of Clifford and Joyce Stewart of Mexico. Sister, Wendy McDonald, and brother, SSgt. Clifford Stewart, also live in Mexico. Younger brother, LTC Terry Stewart, is on active duty in Mililani Town, HI.
If you know of a MVHS alumnus who is currently serving their country or has recently finished their enlistment, please contact Donna Peare at firstname.lastname@example.org.