MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE -- MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. – Col. James B. “Beau” Higgins replaced Col. Michael H. Brown as the commanding officer of Headquarters Battalion, 2nd Marine Division, during a change of command ceremony, Aug. 3.
Brown will transition to United States Marine Corps Forces Cyberspace Command as the operations officer. Higgins joins the battalion after recently completing a tour with the Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command – Afghanistan.
Brown thanked the Marines and sailors of the battalion for their consistent hard work during his tenure as commanding officer. He singled out two Marines, Gunnery Sergeants Kenneth W. Hunter, the company gunnery sergeant for Headquarters Company, and Matthew T. Austin, the battalion’s Wounded Warrior Program staff noncommissioned officer in charge, for their hard work in establishing, maintaining and improving the battalion’s Wounded Warrior Program.
After awarding the gunnery sergeants each a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Brown talked to the crowd about their role in getting the program off the ground.
“I said (to the sergeant major at the time), ‘I want you to hand pick the best gunnery sergeant we have in the battalion, a guy that’s caring, compassionate, takes no prisoners, who will get things done, will take a mission-type order and be off to the races and get that done,’ and he handed me Ken Hunter,” said Brown. “We could not have picked a finer staff (noncommissioned officer), a better Marine to have started this program for us, and I am sincerely indebted to him for what he helped create.
“I made a promise to the gunny – ‘get this thing off the ground; work here for about six or seven months because I know you want to deploy. We’ll get you over to Afghanistan,’ and we did that, and he got replaced by Gunnery Sgt. Austin,” added Brown. “Gunny Austin shared the same passion and enthusiasm that Gunny Hunter did so it was an absolutely seamless transition between these two staff NCOs. (Austin) has taken the program and been off to the races with it, formalizing it to the point where we know we’re taking care of the Marines and sailors (of Headquarters Battalion).”
Higgins also took the opportunity to address those in attendance at the ceremony, thanking those who put together the logistics for the ceremony and also those who were standing in formation during a hot and muggy morning.
“I want to thank really first and foremost the folks who put this all together; these things don’t happen overnight,” said Higgins. “A lot of hard work goes into it, a lot of last minute requests … so I thank the Marines behind the scenes who made this happen and obviously to the Marines standing out here in the heat. Honestly, I’m very humbled to be here today, to think about where I’ve come from and to be here and have these Marines that I’ll be in this command with – it’s very humbling for me.”
Brown is confident the Marines and sailors of Headquarters Battalion will receive their new CO warmly and the battalion will continue to thrive as it moves into the future.
“(Higgins) has the perfect background, the perfect personality – the Marines will love him,” said Brown. “This battalion will go light years ahead of where we’ve taken it thus far under his leadership."