Marine Corps Commandant Is In Stable Condition After Being Hospitalized For Apparent Heart Attack, Service Says

Screenshot / The 248th Marine Corps Birthday Message / DVIDS

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith is in stable condition at a hospital in Washington, D.C., after suffering an apparent heart attack, the Marine Corps confirmed late Wednesday.

Smith was rushed to the hospital Sunday evening after a “medical emergency,” the Marine Corps said on Monday, adding that further details would be provided but not confirming until late Wednesday that the commandant had reached a stable condition. Two defense officials told U.S. Naval Institute News that Smith suffered a heart attack, and a local police official connected the incident to a report of cardiac arrest of a man near Smith’s home at Marine Barracks Washington, The Washington Post reported.

“Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric M. Smith was admitted to a local Washington, D.C. hospital on Oct. 29, 2023, after suffering a medical condition near the Home of the Commandants at Marine Barracks Washington,” the service said in the statement Wednesday. “He is currently listed in stable condition and is recovering in a leading hospital in our Nation’s capital.” (RELATED: Fireworks Erupt In Senate As Tuberville Denies Individual Votes On Military Officer Promotions)

Updates on the commandant’s condition have been limited as the family requests privacy.

Since Smith’s hospitalization, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the third-highest ranking Marine at the service’s headquarters, was named commandant on an acting basis. There is no confirmed assistant commandant, and Smith has been filling duties of both roles simultaneously.

“In typical Marine fashion, I am the next Marine up. This is what we do, as so many have done before us throughout the history of our Corps,” Heckl said in a Tuesday statement to the force.

“We must continue the march forward on behalf of our fellow Marines and Nation, regardless of the situation or the uncertainty that we may face. That is what our Commandant wants, and what the citizens of our Nation require of each and every one of us,” Heckl said.

The Marine Corps’ top military leader was confirmed in the Senate in September serving a dual role as the acting and assistant commandant for the Marine Corps since his predecessor stepped down in July, leaving the service without a confirmed leader the first time in 164 years.

Department of Defense (DOD) officials grew incensed over Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s hold on military promotions following Smith’s medical event, Politico reported.

“This is outrageous,” a senior DOD official told Politico on condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive issue. “I cannot help but think — because at the end of the day, Eric Smith is a human — that Tuberville’s unnecessary stress that he’s put on the situation where you don’t have a backup … has added a level of complexity and danger to an already bad situation.”

“They’re looking for someone to blame it on, other than themselves,” Tuberville said in response, according to Politico. “We could have all these people confirmed if they’d have just gone by the Constitution.”

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