The top enlisted Marine at Marine Corps Forces Reserve and Marine Corps Forces South will assume the role of sergeant major of the entire Marine Corps on Aug. 8, according to the Marine Corps.
Sgt. Maj. Carlos A. Ruiz will replace Sgt. Maj. Troy Black, who has been in that job since 2019, according to a Monday Marine Corps press release.
Ruiz’s role will be to advocate for enlisted Marines and serve as an adviser to the commandant ― the top Marine leader.
“My wife and I are truly humbled, honored, and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the next sergeant major of the Marine Corps,” Ruiz said in an emailed statement to Marine Corps Times on Wednesday. “Almost 30 years ago my recruiter cracked the door open for me to walk through and along the way Marines of all ranks and experiences took the time to teach and mentor me. I’m sure they are exhausted!”
Ruiz particularly thanked Black and his wife, retired 1st Sgt. Stacie Black, for their “incredible work, passion, and vision.”
Black told Marine Corps Times on Monday, “As sergeant major of the Marine Corps, he will lead our Marines to the next level. He’s a Marine who will provide leadership, guidance, care and advocacy for all Marines and their families.”
On May 30, President Joe Biden nominated Gen. Eric Smith to become the next commandant beginning in July.
Smith’s confirmation may be held up by the blockage of senior military nominees by Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, in protest of the Pentagon’s abortion policy.
A Phoenix native, Ruiz enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1993, according to the press release.
It took Ruiz multiple attempts to join the Marine Corps “because he could not speak English,” Lt. Gen. David Bellon, commander of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Corps Forces South, noted on LinkedIn on Monday.
“He never quit,” Bellon wrote. “He has not quit since.”
After starting out as a warehouse clerk, Ruiz became an enlisted leader at units across the Corps, according to the release. He also has served as a recruiter and drill instructor, as well as a chief instructor of drill instructors.
He has deployed in support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, according to the release.
Ruiz’s awards include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal with combat distinguishing device, Meritorious Service Medal with gold star, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold stars, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with one gold star, and Combat Action Ribbon with one gold star, according to his official biography.
Ruiz was selected in December 2022 to be the senior enlisted leader of U.S. Space Command and had planned to start that role June 30, according to Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Craig Thomas. But then Ruiz got chosen as sergeant major of the Marine Corps, meaning that Space Command will now have to find a different senior enlisted leader.
In 2013, when Ruiz was taking over as the senior enlisted leader for 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, he said, “My plan for this battalion is the same as it has been for every battalion I’ve been with. I’m going to take care of my Marines and push them to maintain the standard set down for them, and uphold their high level of discipline.”
“While SgtMaj Ruiz loves being a Marine, he loves Marines even more,” Bellon wrote Monday on LinkedIn. “He is a warrior of the first order and has proved that many times over.”
Sergeants major of the Marine Corps typically serve four-year terms, at the pleasure of the commandant, according to the news release.
“I will be forever grateful to every Marine I have ever served with,” Ruiz said in his statement. “It’s in large part because of their sacrifice and effort that I find myself here today.”
Editor’s note: This story has been updated with additional comments about and by Sgt. Maj. Ruiz and more information about his planned move to U.S. Space Command.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.