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Colonel James E. Donnellan, oncoming commanding officer, Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center, shares a moment with his wife during the MCMWTC’s change of command ceremony at the expeditionary airfield, July 22, 2016. During the ceremony, Col. Scott D. Leonard, outgoing commanding officer, MCMWTC, relinquished command to Donnellan. (Official Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo/Released)

Photo by Cpl. Medina Ayala-Lo

MCMWTC welcomes new commander

29 Jul 2016 | Cpl. Medina Ayalo-Lo Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

With the sun casting light on a scenic mountain range and in the presence of friends, family and esteemed colleagues, Col. Scott D. Leonard relinquished command of Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center to Col. James E. Donnellan at the expeditionary airfield, July 22, 2016.

Leonard assumed command of MCMWTC in June 2014. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star with valor device and two gold stars in lieu of third award, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.

“I’m grateful to have led this command for two years. Those Marines who come here from across the Marine Corps to train; they’re the reason we exist and they’re the reason everyone is here today,” Leonard said. “It’s really about those young Marines, and it is our privilege to watch this process happen and to watch all of you who support this.”

During the ceremony, Marines of MCMWTC demonstrated their bearing and discipline by performing drill movements. Afterward, the transfer of the guidon between commanders, symbolizing the transfer of responsibility and authority of MCMWTC, was performed. The ceremony concluded with the playing of "Anchors Aweigh" and the "Marines’ Hymn".

“It is really a special privilege for myself and my family to be here,” Donnellan said. “We have fought in every clime and place where we could take a gun and what better place embodies that line from the ‘Marines’ Hymn’ than MWTC. To the Marines, I look forward to working with you and I will do my best over the next two years to continue the proud tradition that Mountain Warfare Training Center has had since 1951.”

After the remarks were made, flowers were presented to the families of Leonard and Donnellan. Although his departure is bittersweet, Leonard looks forward to beginning his next chapter as the Assistant Chief of Staff G-3 for Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, and is proud to have served MCMWTC.

“To the Marines of this command, I want to thank you for taking up the challenge to serve in the Marine Corps and to do it well,” Leonard said. “The Marines and sailors who come here to train do it on your backs and you make it look so easy. For that, you have my eternal gratitude.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms