Top Marine could return to work in a matter of weeks, Del Toro says

by Tommy Grant

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith may be back on the job “in the next several weeks,” Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro told reporters Tuesday, adding he wants Smith to take his time healing and not hurry back to work.

“He’s out of the ICU now, he’s in a lower-level treatment room,” Del Toro told reporters after speaking at the Surface Navy Association’s annual conference in Arlington, Virginia.

“He’s walking around. He’s in good spirits. He’s strong. He’s itching to get back,” Del Toro said. “I foresee that they’ll be some additional therapy that will be involved over the next two to three weeks to make sure that he recovers completely.”

Following a cardiac arrest on Oct. 29 and subsequent hospitalization, Smith had been recovering at home. He returned to the hospital for a Jan. 8 surgery to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart.

Del Toro praised the broader Marine Corps leadership team for ensuring the service is well tended to during this time.

The secretary said Gen. Christopher Mahoney, the assistant commandant who has also been serving as acting commandant, “is doing a great job as the acting commandant, and so I’ve expressed my personal opinion to Gen. Smith that he needs to recover and he shouldn’t be, quote, in a rush to just get back. He’s in constant conversation with Gen. Mahoney; he’s not totally out of touch or anything.”

Bottom line, Del Toro said: “His health is really much better now than it was before.”

Megan Eckstein is the naval warfare reporter at Defense News. She has covered military news since 2009, with a focus on U.S. Navy and Marine Corps operations, acquisition programs and budgets. She has reported from four geographic fleets and is happiest when she’s filing stories from a ship. Megan is a University of Maryland alumna.

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