MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- The commanding officer of 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, passed the colors to the new commanding officer in a change of command ceremony at the Commanding General's Parade Deck April 22.
Lieutenant Col. Philip C. Skuta, commanding officer of the battalion, relinquished command to Lt. Col. Joseph A. L'Etoile, after 22 months of successful combat deployments in conjunction with the Global War on Terrorism.
More than 50 guests were present for the ceremony, including 1st Marine Division commander Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, Combat Center commanding general Brig. Gen. Richard C. Zilmer, Combat Center chief of staff Col. James R. Braden and 7th Marine Regiment commander Col. Craig A. Tucker.
After the symbolic exchanging of the battalion battle colors in front of the battalion formation, both incoming and outgoing commanders took time to address the audience gathered as well as the Marines before them.
"I'd like to address the most important Marines and Sailors in my life over the last two years," said Skuta as he faced the men of 2/7.
"A [commanding officer] is honored to lead a unit for only a brief amount of time," said Skuta. "This battalion belongs to you; and it shows. If my days were to end tomorrow, I know that for one brief moment in time, I have truly walked in the company of heroes."
Skuta is slated to attend the U.S. Army War College in July.
With a warm smile and handshake, Skuta handed the microphone to L'Etoile so he could make his remarks.
"2/7 is one of the Marine Corps' most storied battalions, and I have a little bit of history with 2/7 myself as I was a company commander here about eight years ago," said L'Etoile. "I can't tell you how proud I am to be associated with these Marines once more. To be able to call myself a 2/7 Marine fills me with great pride."
L'Etoile is a graduate of the Citadel, and earned his bachelor's in business administration in 1987. After completing The Basic School in 1987 and Infantry Officer's Course in 1998, L'Etoile commanded an Anti-Armor, Heavy Machine Gun and Mortar Platoon in operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. From 1991 to 1994, L'Etoile served as commanding officer of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln.
After graduating from Amphibious Warfare School in 1995, L'Etoile took command of Weapons Company, 2/7, and served with them until 1997.
In 2002, L'Etoile was assigned to the personal staff of 32nd and 33rd commandants of the Marine Corps. In 2004, he left that billet to become the Operations Officer of 1st Marine Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom II, and served there until his reassignment to 2/7.