The top Marine leader is in stable condition after his hospitalization Sunday, the Marine Corps said Wednesday.
Marine Commandant Gen. Eric Smith was hospitalized Sunday evening following what the Marine Corps called a “medical emergency.” With the commandant in the hospital and no Senate-confirmed assistant commandant, the senior Marine leader at Marine Corps headquarters, Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl, started performing the duties of commandant.
The New York Times and the U.S. Naval Institute reported that Smith had experienced a heart attack, with the Times saying it occurred while Smith was running near his residence at Marine Barracks Washington.
Noah Gray, a spokesman for D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services, said in a statement Tuesday that emergency service personnel “responded to a cardiac arrest” near an intersection a block away from Smith’s residence at Marine Barracks Washington on Sunday at 4:58 p.m.
In a sudden cardiac arrest, which can occur after a heart attack, the heart stops beating, according to the American Heart Association.
Gray said the department doesn’t name its patients.
“Bystanders called 911 and began CPR after witnessing an adult male collapse on the sidewalk while running” in the area of 7th Street and G Street Southeast, Gray said.
The Marine Corps had remained tight-lipped about Smith’s condition, citing his family’s desire for privacy and medical privacy law. But the Corps’ update Wednesday confirmed that Smith experienced his “medical condition” near his home at Marine Barracks Washington.
Smith “is recovering in a leading hospital in our Nation’s capital,” the Marine Corps’ statement said.
Visitors have been limited to Smith’s family at the family’s request, according to the statement, which added, “Updates to his condition will be provided as appropriate.”
Smith’s hospitalization and the ensuing leadership gap in the Marine Corps spurred the Senate to prepare to vote individually on assistant commandant nominee Lt. Gen. Christopher Mahoney and other top military leaders.
Sen. Tommy Tuberville, R-Alabama, had put a monthslong hold on nearly 380 senior military promotions, including Mahoney’s, in protest of a Pentagon policy providing paid leave and travel expenses for troops who seek abortions out of state, a policy he views as illegal.
Without a designated assistant, Smith said Friday, he had been working the equivalent of two jobs. He previously said this punishing schedule was “not sustainable.”
By law, Senate confirmation would allow Mahoney to perform the duties of commandant while Smith recovers.
Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.