Twentynine Palms -- Marines of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, call sign “Havoc”, bid farewell to their commanding officer during the battalion’s change of command ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field, Dec. 15, 2016. Lt. Col. Christopher T. Steele relinquished command of 2/7 to Lt. Col. Jonathan Q. Kenny.
Steele assumed command of the ‘War Dogs’ in June 2015 and led the battalion through its participation in Special Purpose- Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response in support of operations in the Central Command area of operations.
“The Marines and sailors have been magnificently trained by Lt. Col. Steele,” said Maj. Gen. Daniel O'Donohue, 1st Marine Division Commanding General. “That warrior’s heart that was seen in Guadalcanal, Inchon, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom still lives on today in these Marines. I only have two words for [Steele] and those are well done.”
During Steele’s command he led his Marines through countless service level training exercises including Integrated Training Exercise and the Marine Corps Readiness Evaluation Exercise, he also joined the battalion in celebrating its 75th anniversary in January 2016.
“I had a unique opportunity to lead the battalion and for the anniversary, it was a time for us to take a knee and recognize what the Marines and sailors have done in the past 75 years.” Steele said. “In doing that as a team, we came to realize what we do for the nation and what we do to continue the legacy that has been provided by the Marines that came before us; which is one of victory.”
Five formations, representing each company of 2/7, stood with rifles, ceremoniously demonstrating how Marines formed for battle in years past. Throughout all ranks, Steele’s leadership resonated with the Marines.
“I want to thank him for the way he led and the way he treated us,” said Lance Cpl. Dominick Miller, rifleman, Company G, 2/7. “A lot of us appreciated how he handled his business and how he came and talked to us junior enlisted and squad leaders and genuinely cared about what we had to say. He is a great leader and we are going to miss him.”
During the ceremony, the transfer of the battalion colors, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility and authority of 2/7, was performed by the outgoing and incoming battalion commanders. As Steele moves on to serve with 7th Marine Regiment, he leaves the ‘War Dogs’ with parting words.
“I want them to take away the respect that I have for them and how they accomplished every mission that they were assigned,” Steele said. “I also asked them to remember the fundamental reason why infantry battalions exist in the Marine Corps; and that is to fight and win with what we carry on our backs regardless of circumstances.”
Kenney, who most recently served as the leader of the Commanders Action Group during his time with Marine Corps Tactics and Operations Group, reminds his Marines about what lies ahead.
“It’s humbling to take command of a unit with so much history and it’s important to remember that we need to be ready for whatever comes our way,” said Kenney. “There is a lot of uncertainty that exists in the world today, but we will be “Ready for all and yielding to none.”