CAMP LEJEUNE, NC, UNITED STATES --
2d Marine Division (MARDIV) stands as the Marine Corps’ expeditionary force in readiness. Over 16,000 Marines serve at any given time in the division, led by a general officer ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.
U.S. Marines with 2d Marine Division said their final goodbyes to Maj. Gen. David J. Furness during a change of command ceremony on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, August 6, 2020. During the ceremony, Furness relinquished command of 2d MARDIV to Maj. Gen. Francis L. Donovan after two years of leading the “follow me” division.
“To the Marines and sailors of the 2d MARDIV, thank you,” said Furness. “You are special, special people and I want to thank each one of you personally.”
Furness was commissioned on May 16, 1987 upon graduation from the Virginia Military Institute. He has led as an infantry officer in several capacities, participating in operations to include Provide Comfort in India, Iraqi Freedom, and Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, among others. He has also contributed to making Marines, serving in both recruiting commands and entry-level training for both enlisted and Marine officers. During his speech, Furness expressed his appreciation for the hard work and dedication of those under his charge who operated under a unified command structure to form an unparalleled fighting force.
“Of the Marines and Sailors of this division, I have only asked one thing,” said Furness stoically. “To be able to fight tonight. And they have never let me down. As an infantry officer, there is no better place to serve than here, the biggest possible stage of fighting Marines. I could not be prouder of my Marines and I know I’m leaving them in good hands.”
Donovan, who recently served as Joint Special Operations Command assistant commanding general, is considered a pioneer in the Marine Raider program playing a fundamental role in the special operations community. From developing the precursor to today’s Marine Raiders, to playing a command role in the United States’ most elite forces, Donovan has commanded and led at many levels. Despite his accolades, Donovan acknowledges the gravity of his new role as the 2d MARDIV commanding general.
“It’s clear to see that I have some enormous shoes to fill,” said Donovan humbly. “I look forward to leading such a prestigious unit with such a storied history. I know that we will do great things and I cannot wait to get started.”
The twilight ceremony included countless friends and family of the two generals as well as the full regalia of the 2d MARDIV band and color guard, flanked by representatives from throughout the Division. Emotions ran high as the sun lowered over the New river. In the end, Furness feels confident the reputation of 2d MARDIV will continue to shine in the hands of Donovan.
“I don’t apologize for anything,” said Furness proudly. “If I had another 2 years, I would do it the same way again. Because when I asked the best of my Marines, you gave me your best. For that I will be thankful until the last day that I breathe.”