Commandant Issues Marine Corps Birthday Message as Service Says He Is on 'Path to Full Recovery' After Cardiac Arrest

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Gen. Eric Smith sworn in as the 39th commandant of the Marine Corps
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro swears in Gen. Eric Smith as the 39th commandant of the Marine Corps, Sept. 22, in the Pentagon. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lt. Gabrielle Dimaapi)

The commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. Eric Smith, "continues on his path to full recovery" and will be transferring to an inpatient rehabilitation facility, according to a service update late Wednesday, after he suffered cardiac arrest over a week ago.

The Marine Corps did not say when the transfer would happen, but did say it came at the recommendation of his medical team based on his physical health and "rapid improvement," according to a press release.

Smith, who was transported to a hospital in Washington, D.C., after his medical emergency, also offered a written message to the force, saying that his "recovery is going well" and that he appreciates the support he and his family have received over the last week.

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"What's more important is that I join all Marines in celebrating 248 years of our beloved Corps," he said in advance of the Marine Corps' birthday on Friday.

"Like many of you, I've celebrated our birthday in a variety of 'climes and places' over the years, but what matters most is that we're together as a family -- spiritually, if not physically," he said. "I'd ask you to take a moment to reach out to your brothers and sisters sitting next to you, as well as those you may not have connected with in a while. Have fun, and Happy Birthday, Marines!"

Gen. Christopher Mahoney, who was sworn in as assistant commandant earlier this month, has been performing the duties of the commandant in Smith's absence.

Mahoney's confirmation came during a Senate blockade of hundreds of promotions and nominees by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R.-Ala., who appeared to want out of the months-long standoff this week. He has blocked the promotions in protest of the Pentagon's policy of reimbursing travel for abortion services, among other reproductive health care.

"I understand the urgency. I'm not trying to be hardheaded about this. I understand we got some unique problems the last few weeks," he said Tuesday, according to Punchbowl News reporter Andrew Desiderio. "It affects our country. I want to get this over with but do it the right way."

Emerging problems over the last few weeks not only include Smith's health emergency, but also the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas, for which there are several U.S. military assets deployed on its perimeter.

Last month, a defense official told Military.com that the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit was headed "to the waters off of Israel" in response to the conflict there.

The statement about Smith's health said that his medical team is confident rehabilitation at an inpatient facility will get him back to duty sooner than if he were to use outpatient resources.

-- Drew F. Lawrence can be reached at drew.lawrence@military.com. Follow him on X @df_lawrence.

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