Marine Barracks Washington, Washington D.C. -- Gen. James T. Conway became the 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps, Monday, after assuming command from Gen. Michael W. Hagee during a passage of command ceremony here.
Hagee’s retirement ceremony took place earlier Monday morning, ending 42 years of distinguished military service.
“Throughout all the postings and assignments I have had, the one thing I am most proud of is that since 1968 I have been called a U.S. Marine,” said Hagee.
Secretary of Defense, Donald H. Rumsfeld, was present for the retirement and the passage of command ceremony.
“(Hagee) left behind a Marine Corps that under his watch has become the best-trained, the best-led, and the best-equipped force in history,” Rumsfeld said. He also noted Hagee has led the Marine Corps during some of the organization’s most challenging times, citing the Marines’ hard fighting in Fallujah, Ramadi and other parts of western Iraq.
“Heroes are not in short supply,” Rumsfeld said of today’s Marines. “We can say with pride that many of this nation’s greatest young people are those who proudly wear the eagle, the globe and the anchor.”
Conway, a graduate of Southeast Missouri State University, was commissioned as an infantry officer in 1970, where he held a variety of platoon and company commander billets. As a field grade officer, he taught tactics at The Basic School, served as operations officer for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to include contingency operations off Beirut, Lebanon, commanded Battalion Landing Team 3/2 during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and served as commanding officer of TBS.
As a general officer, Conway has served as the commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force during two combat tours in Iraq, the president of the Marine Corps University at Quantico, Va., and the Director of Operations, J-3, on the Joint Staff at the Pentagon, where he served prior to becoming Commandant of the Marine Corps.
“The raw courage, the selflessness, the teamwork demonstrated by this young generation is absolutely unbelievable,” said Conway. “I would suggest that our services, our Corps and our nation are in great shape for a long time to come.”
Conway takes the helm as Marines continue to engage enemies on the frontlines of the Global War on Terrorism.
“This is going to take awhile,” he said of ongoing operations in Iraq. “With your support there is only one outcome, and that is victory.”