MARINE CORPS BASE TWENTYNINE PALMS, Calif. -- Twenty-two months after he took charge of his Marines in Iraq, Lt. Col. Christopher I. Woodbridge, commanding officer, 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, bid farewell to the "First Team."Woodbridge, a Brooklyn native, relinquished his command to Lt. Col. Nicholas F. Marano during an afternoon ceremony June 10 on the parade field. The Desert Storm veteran took command of the battalion in August 2003, which marked his return to 1/7. Woodbridge's first assignment in the Corps after graduating from the Marine Officer Course was as a platoon commander with Bravo Company, 1/7 in 1988. Prior to rejoining 1/7, Woodbridge was assigned to Marine Forces Central Command as part of the Marine Combat Assessment Team deploying to the U.S. Central Command Area of Operations for Operation Iraqi Freedom. Woodbridge leaves 1/7 after two deployments and thanked them for their exceptional performance under extreme challenges. "Its been said that 1st Marine Division is a national treasure, and 7th Marines is called the 'Magnificent Seven' for a reason," said Woodbridge during the ceremony. "The crown jewel is the 'First Team' standing behind me. They are worthy of the legacy of their forefathers who served in the Choisin Reservoir, Guadalcanal and Desert Storm. They all stand in formation with these young men behind me." Woodbridge said he is humbled to have been a member of 1/7, and it was more blessings than any man could ever ask for. "These are young men who will kick down building doors in the middle of Iraq, in the middle of the night, with no idea of who or what is inside," said Woodbridge. "They have the courage to run into a burning vehicle to pull out a comrade who has been wounded. These men are heroes. Because I served along the side of men like this I can stand there next to [Lt. Gen. Lewis "Chesty"] Puller, and I might just measure up." Then Woodbridge turned around and addressed his Marines with a final salute as battalion commander. "First Team, like I said this morning, it's not good-bye; I'll see you in the future, and I salute you." Marano joins the battalion after serving as the ground operations officer for the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force out of Camp Pendleton. He has participated in Operation Auburn Endeavor in the Republic of Georgia and Operation Noble Anvil/Allied Force in Albania and Kosovo. He is a graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College Nonresident Program. Marano and his wife, Tami, live in Carlsbad, Calif., and have two children, Nicholas and Kristen. "I'm truly honored and humbled to be standing here in front of you today," said Marano, a 24-year veteran. "I watched you from afar during OIF. The courage and professionalism of these men have upheld the traditions and the honor of this proud battalion, and I'm truly fortunate to stand here as your commander."