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Sgt. Maj. Ernest Hoopii, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade sergeant major, presents the 2nd MEB colors to Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik (left) during the brigade’s assumption of command ceremony March 9. Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson received the colors from Hejlik, symbolizing the authority and accountability of command vested in Nicholson by naming him the 2nd MEB commanding general.

Photo by Cpl. Michael Curvin

Nicholson assumes command of 2nd MEB

9 Mar 2009 | 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade Staff Report 2nd Marine Division

Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson assumed command of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade during a ceremony here March 9.

The brigade will deploy to Afghanistan this spring to conduct counterinsurgency operations and train Afghan national security forces. The unit will join NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan’s Regional Command-South, where violence has seen a steady rise throughout the past year.

Nicholson, whose service includes command of infantry units, as well as instructor duty at the Officers Candidate School and the U.S. Naval Academy, most recently served as the assistant division commander of the 2nd Marine Division.

Nicholson and Sgt. Maj. Ernest Hoopii, the MEB sergeant major, have high hopes of continuing the brigade’s storied success as they prepare for their journey into Afghanistan. The brigade last deployed in February 2003 to Kuwait under the command of now-Lt. Gen. Richard Natonski.

“We have all the high standards to live up to,” Nicholson said. “We take that seriously and I know we are physically prepared for the mission.”

According to Hoopii, the Marines with 2nd MEB will face a tough climate and will not necessarily have the accommodations they are used to while in garrison.

“I need them to understand that the environment we’re going to be in is going to be extremely tough and challenging with limited resources,” Hoopii said. “Staying in touch with family and friends is going to be difficult.”

Hoopii wants the MEB Marines and sailors to understand that the difficult path lying ahead will make it necessary for them to come together as one community.

“They’re going to have to use their fellow Marines and sailors as their immediate family until we can establish a robust communication system,” Hoopii said. “In addition, they’re also going to be working long, hard and very fast. That’s our nature. It’s what we do.”

As for the Marines getting ready to leave, they are ready to go.

“It’s very exciting and motivating to me,” said Cpl. William C. Bartlett, with the 2nd MEB’s Joint Reception Center. “It’s the kind of mission I wanted when I joined the Corps after 9/11.”