MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. --
Lieutenant Col. John O’Neal assumed command of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Col. Scott D. Campbell during a change of command ceremony aboard the Camp Del Mar parade deck, June 27.
In attendance of the ceremony was Lieutenant Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force.
During the ceremony, Toolan spoke on the importance of Marine Expeditionary Units.
“For many years the Marine Expeditionary Unit has been sort of the crown jewel of the Marine Corps,” Toolan said. “They’re the ones out there representing the forward pointy edge of the spear.”
Campbell, who had been with the MEU since March of 2011, addressed his Marines and imparted on them words of gratitude and wisdom.
“I get a lot of credit for the work I do,” said Campbell. “But none of it could be accomplished without you Marines and sailors putting in the hours to make it happen.”
Campbell also credited the officers and the staff non-commissioned officers on a safe return home from their Western Pacific 12-2 deployment.
“Anytime you deploy with 2,400 Marines and bring 2,400 Marines home, take 31 aircraft and bring 31 aircraft back, that is a win,” Campbell said.
With his final parting words Campbell turned to his replacement and gave his gratitude for his past service.
“He’s a tremendous [executive officer], a warrior of the highest caliber and he’s one of my best friends,” Campbell said.
Campbell is leaving the MEU for his new assignment at the Council on Foreign Relations as the Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow.
O’Neal, who served as the unit’s executive officer since June of 2011, has extensive knowledge on how the 15th MEU operates, and expressed what an absolute honor it is to continue to uphold the prestigious honor of this unit.
“Standing out here is more than I ever thought I would ever achieve when I came to the MEU,” O’Neal said. “This is a great opportunity to take the helm of the 15th MEU. When the call comes we’ll be ready.”
O’Neal took a moment to thank his long time mentor for all the guidance he’s given over the years.
“I am supremely confident in my abilities to deal with the task at hand by and large because of your leadership and mentorship,” O’Neal said.
O’Neal started his Marine Corps Career in 1990 following his graduation from Eastern Michigan University and his commissioning through the Platoon Leaders Course program.
After completing The Basic School, he attended flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator. As a CH-46 pilot, O’Neal’s flying tours include service with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 165, HMM-262, HMM-265 and HMM-162.
During his squadron tours, he held various billets to include ground safety officer, administrative officer, logistics officer, assistant operations officer and aircraft maintenance officer.
The 15th MEU recently returned from conducting operations around the globe during their eight month Western Pacific 12-2 deployment.