MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Colonel Vance L. Cryer assumed command of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit from Lt. Col. John R. O’Neal during a change of command ceremony aboard Camp Pendleton, Calif., July 10, 2014.
In attendance during the ceremony was Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, commanding general, I Marine Expeditionary Force. Toolan addressed the crowd about the importance of Marine expeditionary units, the Marine Corps’ smallest standing Marine Air-Ground Task Force.
“We are trying to return back to our amphibious roots, and we need expertise like [O’Neal’s] to get there,” Toolan said. “[O’Neal’s expertise] came out in spades during the course of this past year when he was in command.”
In front of a formation of Marines from various units that will join together to comprise the 15th MEU later this year, O’Neal and Cryer exchanged the unit’s colors symbolizing the transfer of leadership.
O’Neal, who is from Southfield, Michigan, assumed his duty as commanding officer June 27, 2013, but served as the unit’s executive officer during the 15th MEU’s Western Pacific 12-2 deployment. His follow-on assignment will be at the Strategic Initiatives Group, Headquarters Marine Corps.
During the ceremony O’Neal reflected on his service and addressed family, friends and Marines.
“This last year has been the most rewarding of my career,” O’Neal said. “Marines, thank you for what you do. The MEU’s success would not be possible without your hard work and dedication.”
Cryer, who joins the unit after serving as the Aviation Weapons Programs deputy branch head at Headquarters, Marine Corps, expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to lead such a reputable unit.
“Right now around the globe there is chaos,” Cryer said. “The Marines here are working diligently each day to go forward and do the nations bidding, and this is where it all starts.”
Cryer, who is from Fort Worth, Texas, said he plans to continue to build on the unit’s successes and prepare for the unit’s future deployment in 2015.