Camp Lejeune, N.C. -- The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit conducted a change of command ceremony formally recognizing the transfer of command from Col. Matthew G. St. Clair to Col. Robert C. Fulford, aboard Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, June 25, 2014.
The ceremony featured the 2nd Marine Division Band and guest speaker Maj. Gen. Raymond C. Fox, the commanding general of II Marine Expeditionary Force. Fox shared some of his thoughts about the MEU and both colonels during his speech to guests and participants.
“This is by far the unit I’m worried about least in the commandant’s entire command,” said Fox.
Fox said the MEU demonstrated its reliability and capabilities during its response to Hurricane Sandy early last year. He also said he has full faith and confidence in the abilities of both St. Clair and Fulford as St. Clair moving forward into their new positions of responsibility.
St. Clair served as the 26th MEU commander from June 2011 to June 2014. While led by St. Clair, the MEU successfully conducted disaster relief efforts in New York in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2013, and deployed for nine months to the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility. St. Clair previously served as a military assistant to the executive secretary, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense, and a future plans officer with 2nd Marine Division. His awards include the Legion of Merit Defense Superior Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with two gold stars in lieu of third award, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with one gold star in lieu of second award, the Combat Action Ribbon, and the Legion of Merit.
“Leaving the MEU is like leaving family,” said St. Clair. “This has been the best command I’ve been with in my [25 year career].”
St. Clair’s next assignment is to assume command of the ground combat element integrated task force. The GCEITF will be the first to feature female Marines in combat arms military occupational specialties.
Fulford served as the division chief, Analysis and Integration Division, Joint Staff, J5 Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate, from August 2012 to June 2014. He has prior experience with MEUs having deployed with the 22nd MEU during his time as the commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. He was the commanding officer of 3/2 July 2008 to April 2010. His personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star Medal with “V”, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Meritorious Service Medal with 3 gold stars in lieu of fourth award.
“The MEU is a career long dream come true,” said Fulford. “It’s an awesome opportunity and this is clearly a great family and great team.
Fulford said he is looking forward to serving alongside and leading the Marines and sailors of the MEU.