John L. Estrada

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John Estrada
John Estrada-official portrait 500x500.jpg
Estrada in September 2013
United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago
In office
March 17, 2016 – January 20, 2017
PresidentBarack Obama
Preceded byMargaret Diop (acting)
Succeeded byJoseph Mondello
15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
In office
June 26, 2003 – April 25, 2007
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byAlford L. McMichael
Succeeded byCarlton Kent
Personal details
Born (1955-09-27) September 27, 1955 (age 64)
Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Cote
OccupationMarine, ambassador
WebsiteEmbassy website
Military service
AllegianceUnited States
Branch/serviceUnited States Marine Corps
Years of service1973–2007
RankSergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Battles/warsGulf War
Operation Southern Watch
Iraq War
AwardsNavy Distinguished Service Medal
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Medal (4)
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal

John Learie Estrada (born September 27, 1955) is the former United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago and a former United States Marine who served as the 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007.[1][2] Estrada stepped down from that post on April 25, 2007, turning over the billet to the next sergeant major, Carlton Kent. Estrada then retired from the military in June 2007, after over 33 years of service.[3][4] He has also worked as a senior manager for Lockheed Martin Training Solutions from 2008 onward.

Estrada was nominated to be the United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago in July 2013, was approved for the position on February 12, 2016,[5] and became the ambassador on March 17.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Estrada was born in Laventille, Trinidad and Tobago on September 27, 1955.[7] He immigrated to the United States as a teenager and became a naturalized citizen in 1988.

Estrada as the Sergeant Major of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Estrada orating to U.S. Marines at the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2005.
Estrada in a U.S. State Department video.

Military career[edit]

Estrada enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on September 19, 1973, and attended recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island in South Carolina. After completing F-4 aircraft maintenance schools at Naval Air Station Memphis, and Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, Private First Class Estrada was assigned to VMFA-451 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina in March 1974.

In December 1974, Lance Corporal Estrada was transferred to VMFA-232, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. He was meritoriously promoted to corporal in March 1975. In February 1976, Sergeant Estrada served with VMFAT-101, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Arizona. In September 1977, he transferred to VMFA-314, Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, CA. Reassigned to VMFA-323 in December 1978, he deployed with the squadron in November 1979 for 7 months aboard the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea to the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf. In June 1980, Staff Sergeant Estrada transferred to VMFA-321, Marine Aircraft Group 41, Detachment "A" at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland.

In August 1982, Staff Sergeant Estrada was ordered to drill instructor duty at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, where he served with Kilo Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion. He was meritoriously promoted to gunnery sergeant in January 1984. In October, Estrada returned to Beaufort for duty with VMFA-251 as the Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge of the Airframes Division. In November 1985, he was reassigned to VMFA-451 and deployed to the Western Pacific from January to July 1986 under the Unit Deployment Program. From January to March 1987, Estrada attended aircraft maintenance schools at Naval Air Station Cecil Field and Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida retraining as an FA-18 Hornet Hydraulic/Structural Mechanic.

In October 1987, Estrada returned to Drill Instructor duty, this time at back at Parris Island. He served as Series Chief Drill Instructor with India Company, 3rd Recruit Training Battalion and subsequently as Standing Operating Procedures Instructor and Drill Master at Drill Instructor School until his promotion to First Sergeant in October 1990.

From December 1990 to March 1995, Estrada served as first sergeant for Intelligence Company, 3rd Surveillance Reconnaissance and Intelligence Group, Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan; Marine Security Force Company, Norfolk, Virginia; Electronics Maintenance Company, 1st Maintenance Battalion, 1st Force Service Support Group, Camp Pendleton; and Alpha Company, 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton.

From March 1995 to May 1998, Estrada served as sergeant major for 2nd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division at Camp Pendleton; and deployed with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) and 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (SOC) to the Western Pacific and the Persian Gulf.

In May 1998, Estrada assumed the duties as sergeant major for Recruiting Station Sacramento, California in the 12th Marine Corps District, Western Recruiting Region. From April 2000 to October 2001, Estrada was assigned as sergeant major, Marine Recruit Training Regiment, MCRD Parris Island, South Carolina.

From December 2001 to May 2003, Estrada served as the sergeant major, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing. During this assignment, he was forward deployed and participated in Operation Southern Watch and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Estrada assumed his post as the 15th Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps on June 26, 2003, succeeding Alford L. McMichael.[2][8] On April 25, 2007, Estrada stepped down from his post as Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, turning over the post to Carlton Kent.[9] Estrada was awarded the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for his service and retired from the Marine Corps in June 2007.[9]

Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago[edit]

In July 2013, President Barack Obama nominated Estrada to be the next United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago, the country of Estrada's birth.[10] The United States Senate did not act upon the nomination. Obama renominated Estrada on January 6, 2014.[11] Estrada was approved for the position on February 12, 2016[5] and became the ambassador on March 17, 2016.

Personal life[edit]

Estrada formally endorsed U.S. Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States during a rally at Battery Creek High School in Beaufort, South Carolina on January 24, 2008.[12] On August 28, 2008, Estrada spoke at the Democratic National Convention, echoing his support for Obama, citing his "obligation... to protect the Marines, sailors and their families."[13]

In July 2010, U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Estrada to serve as a commissioner for the American Battle Monuments Commission, the agency overseeing U.S. Armed Forces cemeteries and memorials overseas.[14] Estrada previously served as a committee member of the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services, a member of the Board of Directors for Operation Homefront, and on the executive committee for the United Service Organizations.

Estrada is married to Elizabeth Cote Estrada, who is a doctor.[15]

Awards and honors[edit]

Estrada's personal awards include:

1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg1 golden star.svg
Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Bronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.pngBronze-service-star-3d.png Silver-service-star-3d.pngSilver-service-star-3d.png
Bronze star
Silver star
1st row Navy Distinguished Service Medal Bronze Star Medal Meritorious Service Medal w/ 3 award stars
2nd row
Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal
Joint Service Achievement Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal
Navy Presidential Unit Citation
3rd row
Navy Unit Commendation w/ 2 service stars
Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation w/ 4 service stars
Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal w/ 10 service stars
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
4th row
National Defense Service Medal w/ 2 service stars
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal
Southwest Asia Service Medal w/ 1 service star
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
5th row
Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon w/ 5 service stars
Marine Corps Recruiting Ribbon
Marine Corps Drill Instructor Ribbon w/ 2 service stars



  1. ^ Rocke, Cpl. Ethan E. (June 30, 2003). "New Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps posts". Marine Corps News.
  2. ^ a b "Sgt. Maj. of Marine Corps sword of office changes hands" (Press release). Division of Public Affairs, United States Marine Corps. July 2, 2003. Release # 0703-03-0537. Retrieved 2007-01-24.
  3. ^ Hoellwarth, John (April 26, 2007). "Kent becomes top enlisted Marine". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on May 31, 2009. Retrieved 2007-04-25.
  4. ^ "Sergeant Major John L. Estrada, USMC (Retired)". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. Retrieved 2007-12-25.
  5. ^ a b "Senate confirms six of President Barack Obama's nominees for ambassadorships and senior positions at the State Department" (Press release). Associated Press. February 12, 2016. Retrieved February 15, 2016.
  6. ^ "John L. Estrada [es-TRAH-dah]: U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago". Embassy of the United States in Trinidad & Tobago. United States Department of State. March 2016. Archived from the original on May 5, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2016.CS1 maint: unfit url (link)
  7. ^ Richard Charan (July 31, 2013). "Laventille-born John Estrada nominated US Ambassador to T&T". Trinidad Express. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  8. ^ Obama Campaign (March 2, 2008). "Senior Military Leadership in Support of Senator Obama". Barack Obama for President. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  9. ^ a b Beth Zimmerman (April 10, 2007). "Kent to replace Estrada on April 25". Marine Corps Times. Archived from the original on April 10, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-10.
  10. ^ "President Obama Announces More Key Administration Posts" (Press release). White House Office of the Press Secretary. July 30, 2013. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  11. ^ "John L. Estrada (1955–)". United States Department of State. Retrieved March 1, 2015.
  12. ^ Andrew Tilghman (March 7, 2008). "Estrada campaigns for Sen. Barack Obama". Marine Corps Times. Retrieved 2008-03-11.
  13. ^ "2008 Democratic National Convention: Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by John Estrada, From Orlando, Florida – the Highest Ranking Enlisted Marine". KTIV. Retrieved 2008-08-30.
  14. ^ "ABMC Commissioners". ABMC. Archived from the original on 15 October 2011. Retrieved 1 March 2015.

Further reading[edit]

This article incorporates text in the public domain from U.S. Government agencies.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Alford McMichael
Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps
Succeeded by
Carlton Kent
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Margaret Diop
United States Ambassador to Trinidad and Tobago
Succeeded by
Joseph Mondello