MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
The commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, relinquished command during a ceremony aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., Aug. 6, 2010.
At the ceremony, seven platoons of rifle bearing men and women in uniform represented the nearly 60,000 warfighters who comprise II MEF – many of whom have deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom during the general’s two-year tour of duty leading the MEF.
“There are Marines who have deployed [up to] seven times in this MEF,” Hejlik said as he addressed ceremony guests. “And they stay - none of them have to stay, none of them were drafted. They volunteered to serve their country.”
Hejlik added that he’s amazed by the things the Marines and sailors of II MEF have done. “They don’t ask for much [in return] - they just ask to be trained well, they ask to be equipped well, and they want to go forward into the fight,” he said. “Over the last two years, it’s really been humbling to be able to be their leader.”
During his tenure, Marines from II MEF participated in numerous combat and humanitarian operations. From 2009-2010, II MEF deployed Marines in support of OIF as the last Marines in Iraq closing a significant six-year chapter in the Corps’ history. Simultaneously, II MEF activated and deployed the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade into Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand province effectively gaining a foothold for follow on combat operations.
Also during his tour, Marines from II MEF supported humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in Haiti following the January 2010 earthquake disaster by rapidly regenerating the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit following its return from deployment. Both the 22nd and the 24th MEU provided desperately needed food, water, medical supplies, and engineering assets to the stricken Haitian people just days after disaster.
Considering this during the ceremony, the general explained to the audience, “The 60,000 Marines and sailors of II MEF are truly incredible – it’s all about them.”
Hejlik has served as the II MEF commander since July 2008 and departs to assume duties as the commanding general of Marine Corps Forces Command, where he will oversee Fleet Marine Force, Atlantic; U.S. Marine Corps Bases, Atlantic; and U.S. Marine Forces Europe. He will also serve as the principal adviser to the commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command on matters pertaining to the Marine Corps.
Maj. Gen. John A. Toolan will serve as the acting commander until the next II MEF commanding general is identified.