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Photo Information

Lt. Col. James R. Fullwood (right), relinquishes his duties as commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, to Lt. Col. Michael S. Styskal, during a change of command ceremony June 3, 2011, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Johnston

From Iwo Jima to Afghanistan: 2/9 passes the legacy to a new leader

6 Jun 2011 | Lance Cpl. Andrew D. Johnston

Friends, families, Marines and sailors gathered for a change of command ceremony June 3, 2011, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during which Lt. Col. James R. Fullwood relinquished his duties as commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, to Lt. Col. Michael S. Styskal.

Composed and calm, Fullwood approached the crowd and made it a point to remember the fallen brothers from his command, 15 of whom gave their lives during the battalion’s most recent deployment to Marjah, Afghanistan.

“The fallen Marines left a lasting legacy that will reside in the minds of every Marine and sailor in the battalion,” said Fullwood.

A moment of silence ensued.

During his time as commander, Fullwood made sure every one of his Marines was well trained and equipped for battle. His organizational skills and successes as a leader have been recognized numerous times by Marine Corps top officials.

The influence of 2/9 extended beyond Marjah. In December 2010, Company E, 2/9, was ordered to support combat operations with 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, in Sangin, Afgahanistan. During a month and a half of operations Company E carried on the battalion’s legacy in what was described as the last major Taliban stronghold in Helmand province by Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mills, the commanding general of Regional Command Southwest at the time, in the Jan. 22, 2011, issue of the Los Angeles Times.

The regimental commander also recognized the battalion’s successes and talked about the impact 2/9 had on the people of Afghanistan.

“I can tell you they accomplished over 1,500 missions and conducted over 30 named operations,” said Col. John R. Shafer, commanding officer of 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division. “They conducted four partnered operations with British and other coalition forces, all the while enhancing the training capabilities of their Afghanistan National Army counterparts.”

The longtime tradition of passing unit colors continued while 2/9 stood at attention. Fullwood handed the colors to his counterpart, and Styskal officially took command of the battalion.

“The performance of this fine battalion is nothing short of historic,” Shafer said to Fullwood. “Your leadership was the driving force behind the battalion’s ability to further expand the Afghan government and their spear of influence in northern Marjah. You truly will be missed. I know you will continue to do great things for the Corps.”