UPDATED: Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith Hospitalized After Heart Attack

October 30, 2023 3:38 PM
U.S. Marine Gen. Eric M. Smith, the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, speaks to Marines from Marine Corps Recruiting Station Montgomery and Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion 23rd Marines at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, Feb. 10, 2023. U.S. Marine Corps Photo

This post has been updated with an additional statement from the U.S. Marine Corps.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized after suffering an apparent heart attack on Sunday evening, two defense officials confirmed to USNI News on Monday.

The Marine Corps did not provide additional details on the hospitalization. Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl is now performing the duties of Marine commandant, according to a statement from the service.

Heckl is the deputy commandant for combat development and integration. He is the most senior officer within Headquarters, Marine Corps, the service noted in the release. There is currently not a Senate-confirmed assistant commandant in place.

As of Monday afternoon, there were no additional details on Smith’s condition.

In a Monday statement, the service said, “additional information regarding the condition of General Smith will be released at a later time.”

Smith was last seen in public on Sunday afternoon greeting runners at the finish line for the Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Va.

In an address on Friday, he told reporters he was doing the job of both the Marine commandant and assistant commandant of the service, pending the confirmation of the new number-two officer in the Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney. Mahoney has been nominated for a fourth star and to serve as the assistant commandant.

Nearly 400 general and flag officer nominations are stalled in the Senate due to Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) hold on unanimous consent over a Pentagon policy that reimburses service members for out-of-state travel for reproductive care, including abortions. Tuberville says the policy is a violation of the Hyde Amendment that bans federal funds to be used for abortions.

Senate Democratic leaders have been reluctant to vote on military nominees one-by-one saying it would take months of floor time and has led to the stall in confirmations. As of last week, Tuberville and Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) are pushing to confirm Adm. Lisa Franchetti as chief of naval operations and Gen. David Allvin as chief of staff of the Air Force.

“We’ve got to move forward where we can, particularly with the Joint Chiefs,” Sullivan told Military Times last week. “But I’m also hoping to find ways to solve this globally.”

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith, commandant of the Marine Corps, gives a speech before the start of the 48th Marine Corps Marathon in Arlington, Virginia, Oct. 29, 2023. US Marine Corps Photo

The following is the complete Monday statement from the U.S. Marine Corps.

HEADQUARTERS, MARINE CORPS – Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith experienced a medical emergency on the evening of Oct. 29, 2023, and has been hospitalized.

Due to the vacancy in the Office of the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, in accordance with 10 U.S.C. § 8044, the most senior officer of the Marine Corps in the Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, is performing the duties of the Commandant.

Additional information regarding the condition of General Smith will be released at a later time.

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne

Mallory Shelbourne is a reporter for USNI News. She previously covered the Navy for Inside Defense and reported on politics for The Hill.
Follow @MalShelbourne

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