CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan (June 18, 2010) --
Col. Paul L. Damren relinquished command of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to Col. Andrew MacMannis at a change of command ceremony June 17.
Damren, who will assume duties as Chief of Staff for Marine Corps University, said it has been a pleasure working with the Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU and emphasizes the importance of maintaining a strong professional relationship with their Navy counterparts.
“We need to cherish the rapport we have with Amphibious Squadron 11,” said Damren, a North Belgrade, Maine native. “The full-time relationship is unique and continues to grow stronger everyday.”
Since 2008, Damren has commanded the MEU during more than 10 military training exercises throughout Asia and Australia, as well as real-world humanitarian assistance/disaster relief operations in the Republic of the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan.
The MEU has trained alongside numerous countries including Japan, the Kingdom of Thailand, Republic of the Philippines and Australia during its participation in bilateral exercises. Each of the training evolutions included events such as amphibious landings, mechanized raids and helicopter raids.
In the fall of 2009, Damren paused the unit’s participation in Amphibious Landing Exercise 2010 to conduct two simultaneous HA/DR operations in the Asia-Pacific Region. Tropical Storm Ketsana devastated areas around Manila, Republic of the Philippines. Under Damren’s direction, more than 8,000 family food packs were donated to affected families and more than 1,200 medical patients were treated.
At the same time, a small detachment of Marines from the MEU conducted HA/DR operations in the West Sumatra Province of Indonesia after several earthquakes ravaged the region. The MEU provided more than 90,000 pounds of food, construction tools and living supplies to meet the basic needs of those who lost everything.
The legacy Damren leaves behind will be carried on by MacMannis.
MacMannis comes to the 31st MEU after serving as the Commanding Officer for Training Command, Quantico, Va., where he was awarded the Legion of Merit in May.
In 1984, MacMannis was commissioned and assigned to 2nd Marine Division before reporting to The Basic School in 1989 as an instructor. The Baltimore native served as a staff platoon commander and taught tactics during his time at TBS.
From 1995 to 1997, MacMannis attended the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and then moved on to the U.S. Naval Academy, where he served as an instructor and associate chairman of the physics department.
In 2000, MacMannis began a three-year tour on Okinawa, Japan, where he held the billets of Special Operations Officer for III Marine Expeditionary Force, Operations Officer for the 31st MEU and Commanding Officer of Battalion Landing Team 2nd Battalion, 4th Marines, 31st MEU. In 2003 he joined 3rd Marine Division as the Commanding Officer of 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment.
In 2005, he attended the National War College followed by billets as a Strategy Branch Chief and Chief of Policy for the Strategy and Policy directorate, J5, Joint Staff.
During his time at TECOM, MacMannis provided 52 subordinate commands and formal learning centers with the necessary tools to help them train intelligent, knowledgeable and effective Marines throughout the Marine Corps.
The responsibility of selecting commanders for the seven MEUs lies directly with the Commandant of the Marine Corps. A board is convened to review all potential applicants.
The MEU is currently preparing for its Fall Patrol of the Asia-Pacific Region. The deployment includes participating in Amphibious Landing Exercise 2011 in the Republic of the Philippines and Korean Incremental Training Program 2011 in the Republic of Korea.