Marine Corps head out of hospital, preparing for further surgery after heart attack

Marine Corps head out of hospital, preparing for further surgery after heart attack

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Eric Smith is home from the hospital and recovering after suffering a heart attack late last month, the service revealed Thursday.

Smith was released from the hospital Wednesday and is “continuing his recovery … well ahead of schedule” after suffering a heart attack and reportedly collapsing during a run on Oct. 29, according to a statement from the Marine Corps.

“He is now focused on preparing for an upcoming procedure to repair a bicuspid aortic valve in his heart, which his doctors assess directly contributed to his cardiac arrest,” the release states.

“Gen. Smith and his wife, Trish, remain incredibly thankful for the continued outpouring of support from family, friends and colleagues,” the statement adds. “They appreciate everyone’s continued respect for their privacy ahead of Gen. Smith’s procedure and full recovery.”

Smith’s medical emergency proved tricky and revealed glaring holes within the Pentagon, given that the Marine’s assistant commandant should have been the one to step into the role when the four-star general was unable to perform his duties.

But with no serving assistant commandant — a gap caused by Sen. Tommy Tuberville’s (R-Ala.) months-long block on military nominations — the interim acting head was instead Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, the deputy commandant for combat development and integration and commanding general of the Marine Corps Combat Development Command.

The Senate later that week confirmed Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney, the person the White House in July nominated for assistant commandant, to the role, and he took over the commandant duties from Heckl.

The Marine statement said Smith has been in contact with Mahoney, “who continues to perform the duties of the commandant.”

“Gen. Mahoney and I see eye to eye on the strategic direction of our Corps and we are fortunate to be surrounded by a Marine Corps family filled with America’s finest leaders,” Smith said in the release. “We continue to focus on finding the right balance between modernizing through Force Design and our day-to-day crisis response mission, while also on taking care of our Marines and Sailors.”

As of Monday, there were 455 military nominations held up by the Senate.

“If the holds don’t lift by the end of the year, nearly 650 of the more than 850 general and flag officer nominations will be affected,” a Defense official told The Hill.

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