CG bids Depot farewell; McMenamin heads to GWOT, leaves legacy of excellence;
By Lance Cpl. Brian Kester
| | May 28, 2004
MCRD/ERR PARRIS ISLAND, S.C. --
After five consecutive years in the recruiting "fight", Brig. Gen. Joseph J. McMenamin, Commanding General, Marine Corps Recruit Depot/Eastern Recruiting Region, is returning to his roots as a warfighter, first in Iraq, and then with II Marine Expeditionary Force.
Brigadier Gen. McMenamin relinquished his duties aboard the Depot in a change of command ceremony at the Depot Lyceum Tuesday.
All responsibilities as the Depot's commander were handed over to Col. John Valentin, Chief of Staff, until later this summer when Brig. Gen. Richard T. Tryon, current executive officer to the Supreme Allied Commander, Headquarters, Allied Powers Europe, Mons, Belgium, will assume command.
Reflecting on his two years as the commanding officer of the Sixth Marine Corps District and three years serving as the Commanding General of the Depot, Brig. Gen. McMenamin acknowledged the appreciation he has for the people and hospitality he has received during his stay.
He spent a number of years in recruiting and that experience has lead him to bigger responsibilities within that area of expertise.
"You hear a lot about this being an all-volunteer recruiting force, well it's not, it's an all recruited force," said Brig. Gen. McMenamin. "You have these young Staff NCOs, the sergeants, staff sergeants and gunnys out there looking for young men and women. They are working hard every day looking for the quality young men and women who have what it takes to be United States Marines, and that takes hard work and dedication."
Learning from the experiences he gained in the late '80s while serving as the commanding officer of Recruiting Station, Cincinnati, he applied that knowledge on a broader scope to his job aboard the Depot and in the Eastern Recruiting Region.
"Recruiting teaches you a lot of valuable lessons," said Brig. Gen. McMenamin. "There are only three things that test the mettle of an individual other than getting shot at: cold weather training, a 25-mile hike or a three-year stint on recruiting duty. You learn more about yourself internally - intestinal fortitude, courage, determination, drive and integrity - on recruiting duty than you will in any other billet in the Marine Corps, with the exception of being a commander in a combat situation."
That experience came early for Brig. Gen. McMenamin, as he started his Marine Corps career in combat, according to Maj. Gen. Tom Jones, Commanding General, Training and Education Command, Marine Corps Combat Development Com-mand, Quantico, Va.
Major General Jones sees that experience as a determining factor in Brig. Gen. McMenamin's success aboard the Depot.
As far as having somebody that is in charge of molding Marines and making Marines, he was the perfect choice, said Maj. Gen. Jones.
"He is a guy who is fundamentally as strong as they come," he said. "He has been on recruiting duty twice and he has commanded on the company level and the battalion level, so he has got the perfect mix of both training and recruiting."
Those skills served Brig. Gen. McMenamin well, as he encountered continual success throughout his tenure here.
"We have done a lot of things here to make the Depot better," said Brig. Gen. McMenamin. "The biggest thing that we just completed is the base master plan that is going to take what we are doing now all the way into the future.
It will actually allow Parris Island to plan many years ahead, up to a 2020 vision of what the Depot will look like," he continued.
That plan will provide enhanced training facilities and improved traffic flow, which will create a safer environment for the recruits and permanent personnel alike.
The success of the Depot was not confined to his own efforts, as Brig. Gen. McMenamin worked with a productive team both inside and outside of the Marine Corps.
"I think the uniqueness that we have had being here for five years stands out in my mind," said Celia McMenamin, wife of Brig. Gen. McMenamin. "It shows that we have been able to make an impact, and I will miss the camaraderie that we have had here."
The uniqueness of the area lends men and women who serve on the Depot to making comparisons of their lives to the multitudes of those who are just passing through recruit training.
"This is just such a wonderful place to be, you get to see the joy on the faces of the families at family day and graduation," said Celia McMenamin. "I am so proud to be a Marine spouse, just knowing that you are a part of an organization that transforms these people into Marines. I am also a Marine parent and can relate to having children who have made that kind of commitment."
Brigadier Gen. McMenamin's presence has been felt by the military as well as the surrounding community, and is reciprocated.
"Obviously by the combination of the people that were here today, he is well liked not only within the Marine Corps but also in the community," said Maj. Gen. Jones.
Brigadier Gen. McMenamin has enjoyed his time in the Lowcountry, and he holds great appreciation for that time. It was reflected in his job performance in commanding ERR recruiting and recruit training.
"I would have to say that I am most proud of the fact that we contributed to the Marine Corps' 100th straight month of making the recruiting mission, which is the quality and quantity that is required by the Commandant of the Marine Corps," said Brig. Gen. McMenamin.
Along with his skill in the realm of recruiting, Brig. Gen. McMenamin has applied his
efforts toward improving the quality of life for the personnel aboard the Depot. He directed the overhaul of housing for all Marines and sailors assigned to Parris Island, including the demolition and/or relocation of more than 200 housing units. The entire inventory of homes on the Depot will be replaced with new or renovated homes.
Brigadier Gen. McMenamin also brought about a lasting impact on the quality of the recruit training experience.
"I think we have improved the physical fitness [in recruit training] and we've re-evaluated the training schedule, putting great young men and women out into the operating force for the Marine Corps," said Brig. Gen. McMenamin. "On the base side, [we have improved] the support for the families, support for the trainers and the support for the people who live here on the base."
All of the support and improvements seem to have derived from roots established within the recruiting realm, an area that is the beginning for anyone entering the service.
"He was personally responsible for a major program to modernize our long abandoned shooting ranges," said Col. Valentin. "He directed the renovation of Khe Sahn range. He was also the driving force for the Hue City range renovation project that will include, not just the original scope of work, but will also automate it and make it a multi-functional range."
All of Brig. Gen. McMenamin's efforts have had a deep affect on the Depot and the community. Seeping into their personal lives, the transition after a long stay will undoubtedly be a tough one.
"Normally in the military, we move every two to three years, and I have been here five years now," said Brig. Gen. McMenamin. "Being in one place for a long period of time, you become very attached to the people, organizations and the community. That makes it extremely hard to leave, but I am excited about going to the new job."