CAMP HANSEN, Okinawa, Japan --
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit held an official change of command ceremony on the parade field here, June 1, as Col. Andrew R. MacMannis relinquished command to Col. John E. Merna.
The ceremony featured platoons representing each of the Marine Air Ground Task Force's four elements: the command element, the ground combat element 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, the air combat element Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262 Reinforced, and the combat logistics element Combat Logistics Battalion 31.
Music was provided by the III Marine Expeditionary Force Band and distinguished guests included Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., commanding general of III MEF; Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, commanding general of Marine Corps Bases Camp Butler; Maj. Gen. William D. Beydler, commanding general of 1st Marine Air Wing; Rear Adm. Jeffrey A. Harley, commander of Amphibious Forces Seventh Fleet; and Capt. Bradley Lee, commodore of Amphibious Squadron Eleven.
MacMannis took command of the 31st MEU in June 2010, leading the unit through two humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and four regular patrols of the Asia Pacific region.
Under MacMannis' command, the 31st MEU responded to Typhoon Megi in the Philippines and the triple earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disasters during Operation Tomadachi in northern Japan.
During this time, the MEU also completed bilateral and multilateral training exercises in Okinawa, Guam, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea.
Regarding the numerous accomplishments of the unit during his command, MacMannis points to the working environment of the unit as the catalyst, and also his highest achievement as the 31st MEU's commander.
"I'd like to believe my greatest accomplishment was to provide an environment for Marines to work in that allows for initiative and freedom of action," said MacMannis. "If Marines want to be a part of the organization, most everything else will fall into place."
MacMannis will report to Headquarters Marine Corps' Plans, Policies and Operations office in the Pentagon.
Merna assumes command of the unit after serving as the assistant chief of staff for logistics for 2nd Marine Division. He has previously served as the commander of Battalion Landing Team 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, during deployments with the 31st MEU in 2006 and 11th MEU in 2008.