MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Friends, families, Marines and sailors gathered for a change of command ceremony July 8, 2011, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., during which Lt. Col. Joseph C. Murray relinquished his duties as commanding officer of 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, to Lt. Col. Patrick W. McCuen.
A loud crack of thunder rumbled in the distance as Lt. Christopher J. West, the chaplain for 2nd AA Bn, approached the podium to begin the ceremony. He wished Murray the best of luck in his future endeavors and blessed his family for a safe transition into their new home. The crowd bowed their heads as he prayed for the parting commander.
“We are saddened at the loss of a great commanding officer,” said West. “We all know and have experienced the difference having a good CO can make. We are thankful for time we have gotten to serve under his leadership.”
A steady rainfall erupted and pelted the battalion’s Marines as they stood at attention in a parade formation. The announcer listed numerous achievements the battalion made under Murray’s command while the crowd clapped in-between pauses.
Brig. Gen. W. Lee Miller, the acting commanding general of 2nd MarDiv, wanted the crowd to know what type of leader Murray was and how his superb leadership qualities set the bar for commanders in the Corps.
“Joe, as you relinquish command of 2nd Assault Amphibian Battalion, do so with a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment,” said Miller. “Notably, you set the standard among commanders, continually setting the highest level of personnel and equipment accountability—specifically, maintaining an unprecedented 98 percent equipment accountability.”
As the ceremony continued, Murray presented the unit colors to his counterpart, and McCuen officially took command of the battalion. After a moment of silence, a loud “ooh-rah” echoed from the rear.
Murray faced the crowd and thanked everyone for their attendance. Without hesitation, he turned his focus to the Marines of the battalion and praised them for their hard work. Having deployed nearly 1,400 Marines all around the world, he wanted people to know just how much they accomplished.
“For the past two years, these Marines have been out there doing it,” said Murray. “We don’t send them out all at once; we send them out in groups of 50 to 200. They’ve been to—at my last count—over 40 countries around the world. From Afghanistan to Iraq doing combat operations, to Africa, Europe, Central and South America, and the Far East out in Okinawa and Thailand—these Marines have done tremendous things.”
The sun peered through the clouds as the ceremony came to an end. With the new commander in place, the entire battalion marched past Murray and McCuen, saluting them with a sense of pride.
“The performance of this fine battalion is nothing short of historic,” said Miller “(Murray’s) exemplary leadership, loyal devotion and total dedication to duty, were key in the success of 2nd AA Battalion. (His) leadership and personal example were key factors in forming a foundation to build upon.”