MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. — The 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit held a change of command ceremony on the Camp Del Mar parade deck at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, November 13, 2019.
Marking the end of one era and the beginning of the next, Col. Jay M. Holtermann, carried out one of the oldest Marine Corps’ traditions with an official ceremony, passing his duties and responsibilities to Col. Christopher J. Bronzi.
Although the MEU’s mission is typically ship-based, during Holtermann’s tenure it was reassigned as the command element for Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response-Central Command. In his role as commanding officer, Holtermann led 2,300 Marines and sailors during operations such as the withdrawal from Syria, multiple theater security cooperation events, and providing U.S. Embassy reinforcement. He attributed the success of the unit to his staff, Navy counterparts, and the Marines and sailors in his charge.
“I want to give them a special thank you,” said Holtermann, addressing attendees. “We came together, completely repurposed our mission, what we do, where we do it, and absolutely did it with professionalism. Everything that was just mentioned belongs to them.”
From December 2018 to August 2019, Marines and sailors participated in multiple exercises to sustain readiness and worked side-by-side with partners and allies strengthening relationships, increasing combat readiness and providing crisis-response capabilities throughout the central command area of operations.
“He [Holtermann] did an amazing job in a very short time,” said Lt. Gen. Joseph Osterman, commanding general of I Marine Expeditionary Force, “of not only bringing the MEU headquarters together…but to take it, focus it, be innovative - take advantage of some of our pre-deployment training programs. The accomplishments were fantastic.”
Looking ahead at the future of the 15th MEU, Bronzi had a concise message for the Marines and sailors present.
“This nation owes you its soul,” said Bronzi, former I MEF G-37 Force Development Officer. “I have to thank you for bringing, based on your selfless commitment to this unit, probably the most valuable of assets that any unit can possess…a tradition of success,” he said.
As the command element of a MEU, the Marines and sailors predeployment training will focus on ship embarkation alongside U.S. Navy counterparts to create an Amphibious Squadron. The 15th MEU will continue to serve as the Nation’s forward deployed quick response team, capable of accomplishing numerous missions around the globe.
“I’m looking forward to carrying on the tradition with you, getting to know each and every one of you, learning from you, and fighting alongside you,” said Bronzi, as he addressed the formation of troops.
To close the ceremony, two platoons marched before the commanders and guests while rendering a salute to demonstrate honor, discipline, and readiness of the unit from one commander to the other.