Photo Information

Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, left, incoming commanding officer of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, stands with Col. Mark J. Desens, outgoing commanding officer, during the review of the troops at the Change of Command ceremony of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit's commanding officer aboard Camp Lejeune, June 17, 2011. During the ceremony, Col. Mark J. Desens was relieved by Col. Matthew G. St. Clair. 26th MEU recently returned home from an eight month deployment to the 5th and 6th Fleet area of operations.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Michael S. Lockett

26th MEU bids Desens farewell, welcomes St. Clair

17 Jun 2011 | 1st Lt. Lucas Burke 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit

Col. Mark J. Desens relinquished his duties as the commanding officer of 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit to Col. Matthew G. St. Clair at a change of command ceremony aboard Camp Lejeune today.

Desens is heading to Quantico, Virg. to serve at the Marine Corps’ Training and Education Command. He led 26th MEU through two deployments; the first in Sept. 2008 – Apr. 2009 and most recently Aug. 2010 – May 2011. His deployments included exercises throughout the European, Central and Africa Commands, and operations in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Libya.

The incoming commander’s previous assignment was Military Assistant to the Executive Secretary, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Department of Defense. Before that, he served as the commanding officer, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, deploying as the Battalion Landing Team 3/8 with the 22nd MEU. After this deployment, St. Clair graduated from the Marine Corps War College in 2009 before assuming his position within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

Desens summed up his tour with the MEU by describing his experience with his Marines and sailors, “They are magnificent in everything they do, and that is what the Marine Corps has. Nothing else brings this. You can put equipment out there, but you can’t put Marines out there unless they’re wearing this uniform and they have the ethos. They bring industry, they bring intelligence, and they bring passion.”