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Master sergeant and gunnery sergeant celebrate retirement

14 May 2009 | Lance Cpl. Michael A. Bianco

With almost 50 years of combined military service, Master Sgt. Patrick V. Holmes, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s headquarters commandant, and Gunnery Sgt. Donald P. Dellatte, the 31st MEU’s logistics chief, celebrated their retirements at The Palms, May 12.

Both Holmes, who began his military career in 1981, and Dellate, who started his in 1988, will remain on Okinawa beyond retirement.

According to Holmes’ biography, his career began in the U.S. Army where he served three years in the Republic of Panama and Fort Riley, Kan. In 1985, he attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, S.C. Upon graduation he continued his Marine Corps journey to what is currently known as the School of Infantry East at Camp Geiger, N.C., and graduated as a mortarman.

When assigned to 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, Holmes participated in two West Pacific deployments with the 11th MEU including Operation Desert Stay in Saudi Arabia and United Nations transport of Pakistani forces in Somalia. In 1994, with the 15th MEU, he participated in Operation Restore Hope in Somalia and Operation Vigilant Warrior in Southwest Asia. 

After completion of the Basic Recruiters Course in 1995, Holmes served as a recruiter for Recruiting Station San Diego. As a staff sergeant, Holmes transferred to Weapons & Field Training Battalion, Parris Island, S.C., in May 1998 and was assigned to Range Company as a primary marksmanship instructor and later as chief instructor of the Marksmanship Training Unit.

During his first tour on Okinawa in 2000-2001, Holmes, a Great Falls, S.C. native, served as the staff noncommissioned officer in charge and operations chief of the Jungle Warfare Training Center. From 2001 through 2003 he completed a second tour of recruiting duty at RS Columbia, S.C., where he served as the staff noncommissioned officer in charge for Recruiting Substation Florence, S.C.

Holmes’ last stateside duty station was Headquarters & Headquarters Squadron Marine Corps Air Station, Beaufort, S.C., where he served as the squadron training chief. In 2006, he reported to the 31st MEU as the assistant operations chief. During January 2007, he was reassigned as the 31st MEU headquarters commandant.

Holmes’ personal awards and decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

“It’s a great feeling knowing I accomplished everything I wanted during my time in the Marine Corps,” said the 28-year veteran. “It was a long journey, but I was able to get everything out of it.”

Delatte’s 21 years of service began in 1988 when the New Orleans native stepped on the yellow footprints at MCRD San Diego. His first assignment as a Marine was Logistics School in Coronado, Calif., where he would become a logistics and embarkation specialist. 

Upon graduation from his military occupational specialty school, Delatte reported to 1st Low Altitude Air Defense Battalion, Okinawa, Japan where he served for a year. 

While serving with Marine Wing Support Squadron 373 in MCAS El Toro, Calif., Delatte deployed with the squadron to Bahrain in support of operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 until April 1991.

In February 2001, as a staff sergeant, Delatte was transferred to the USS Bon Homme Richard based in San Diego for duty as a combat cargo assistant. Following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, the USS Bon Homme Richard was ordered to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from December 2001 until June 2002.

During 2003, while serving as the squadron operations chief for Marine Wing Support Squadron 274 in MCAS Cherry Point, N.C., Delatte and his squadron were tasked to serve as the MEU Service Support Group (MSSG) for the 22nd MEU.  While with MSSG-22, he remained the operations chief and was deployed in support of OEF for a second time.

Delatte reported to his final duty location in Okinawa in 2006, where he was assigned as the III Marine Expeditionary Force’s embarkation chief.  In 2007, he was reassigned to the 31st MEU to serve as the logistics chief where he has continued to serve until his retirement.

Delatte’s personal awards and decorations include the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

“It really is a bitter sweet feeling,” Delatte said. “I’m ready to go, but there’s a lot that I will miss.”

Both Holmes and Delatte received the Meritorious Service Medal for all their outstanding work and dedication while serving with the 31st MEU.

On this day they were not the only ones to receive awards for their work ethic. Holmes’ wife, Evangeline, and Delatte’s wife, Yukiko Noshiro, were both awarded a Certificate of Commendation, for supporting their husbands throughout their careers.

Delatte had one word of advice for the younger Marines.

“Education is everything,” he said. “If you do nothing else, plan to get your degree.”

While Delatte’s main message was on education, Holmes focused on leadership.

“Bosses say ‘go’; Leaders say ‘let’s go’,” Holmes said. “The only way to get the respect of your Marines is to get in the trenches with them.”

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit