MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHEERY POINT -- Ten thousand, eight hundred and seventy-four. That is the number of days Sgt. Maj. Holly C. Prafke served on active duty. When she enlisted in the Marine Corps nearly three decades ago “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” was the highest grossing movie and “Dallas” was the number one television show. On April 26, with real Earth wars now behind her, Prafke completed her final duties during a Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron relief and appointment ceremony on the parade field here. Sgt. Maj. David G. Eldridge accepted the sword of office as the new sergeant major. Although times have changed since her beginnings as a young Marine, one thing remains the same, said Lt. Col. Charles J. Basham, the H&HS commanding officer. “Prafke is a trailblazer.” Her many notable accomplishments over the years included three meritorious promotions. She served with the Marine Corps Mounted Color Guard and was one of only five females at her first duty station in Iwakuni, Japan.
During his address to the Marines, Basham admitted that he will miss Prafke and her “gift for gab”. Prafke, who takes pride in having led one of the most unique and diverse squadrons on the air station, said she has enjoyed the time she spent with the Marines, but she is ready to transition into civilian life with her husband and fellow sergeant major, Sgt. Maj. Bradley A. Prafke, of Marine Aircraft Group 29. The Prafkes will retire simultaneously during a joint ceremony at New River at the end of July. Eldridge, who came to the squadron after serving as Inspector & Instructor first sergeant of Company C, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion, said he looks forward to working with his new squadron. “I hope to learn a lot from my Marines and do the best job I can do,” he said. “I look forward to working with everyone and building great relationships.”