Marine commandant has open heart surgery, Corps says he will return to full duty

Jan 8, 2024, 8:10 PM

FILE - Acting Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith applauds during a relinquishment ...

FILE - Acting Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith applauds during a relinquishment of office ceremony for U.S. Marine Corps Gen. David Berger on July 10, 2023, at the Marine Barracks in Washington. Smith, the commandant of the Marine Corps, had open heart surgery on Monday, Jan. 8, 2024, and is now expected to return to full duty as the service's leader, the Corps said in a statement.(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

(AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Gen. Eric Smith, the commandant of the Marine Corps, had open heart surgery Monday, and he is expected to return to full duty as the service’s leader, the Corps said in a statement.

Smith suffered cardiac arrest near his home at Marine Barracks Washington on Oct. 29, and was hospitalized. He had been confirmed as the new commandant on Sept. 21. The assistant commandant, Gen. Christopher Mahoney, has been serving as the acting head of the Marine Corps since Smith’s hospitalization.

The Marines said Smith underwent successful surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart, which was the cause of his cardiac arrest. No date was given for his return.

“He is in good condition and continues to recover at the hospital among family members and his doctors,” the statement said. “Following his rehabilitation, Gen. Smith will return to full duty status as Commandant.”

Smith’s cardiac arrest came just two days after he’d talked about the stress of having to do the top two high-level jobs for the service because Republican Sen. Tommy Tuberville had blocked hundreds of military promotions and nominations for months. Tuberville is opposed to Pentagon policy paying for troops’ travel for abortions and other reproductive care.

Under pressure from lawmakers on both sides of the political aisle, Tuberville ended his holds in December, allowing the Senate to confirm more than 435 nominations.

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Marine commandant has open heart surgery, Corps says he will return to full duty