Fairfield departs 3/11 after 20 months, Huxhold welcomed to ‘The Cannon Cockers’

16 Jun 2006 | Cpl. Brian A. Tuthill

The commanding officer of 3rd Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, handed his battalion colors to his successor June 16 in a change-of-command ceremony held at the Commanding General’s Parade Field.In front of more than 150 people and his battalion, Lt. Col. Douglas H. Fairfield, 3/11’s commanding officer, welcomed Lt. Col. Paul Huxhold as the battalion’s new leader.Fairfield also received a Meritorious Service Medal, the second in his career, for his “outstanding performance” while serving with 3/11 for the past 20 months.“These Marines have done some incredible things,” said Fairfield. “These Marines turned themselves around from being a provisional military police battalion back into a working artillery battalion in only 13 working days. That’s really impressive.“We are also the first battalion in the Marine Corps to field the new triple-seven howitzer [M777 lightweight howitzer],” he continued.Even with the fast-paced deployment schedule for the battalion, Fairfield said he is proud of the tremendous efforts the battalion put forth.“The battalion last deployed as a battalion in OIF II when I took command here, and ever since then, every one of these Marines has deployed again or are getting ready to deploy again this summer,” he said. “When they are back here, they are in the field constantly. They have supported between 30 and 40 field exercises in the past 20 months. These guys are in the field all the time. They have put more than 20,000 rounds downrange over the last 20 months, which is by far more than any other battalion in the Marine Corps.”Fairfield went on to thank his wife for her dedicated support to the family as well as the battalion in their time here. Exchanging the microphone with a warm smile and handshake, Huxhold made his comments to the gathered guests and Marines behind him.“I am honored to serve with 3rd Battalion, 11th Marines,” said the new commander. “Although it’s a unique situation, the responsibilities of the commander remain unchanged. My goals are to accomplish the mission and take care of our Marines and sailors.”Huxhold has come to 3/11 while still in command of 5th Battalion, 11th Marine Regiment, based at Camp Pendleton. “There is such a thing as an artillery groupment, where one battalion has more administrative control over another,” explained Fairfield. “That is happening today, and Lt. Col. Huxhold is now the commander of two battalions – 5th Battalion and 3rd Battalion. I’m not at all concerned because I’ve seen the great work he’s done with 5th Battalion, and I know he’s not going to let you down.”Although Huxhold’s responsibilities have expanded, he said his focus will remain on the success of the mission and also his men.“Both battalions have assigned missions,” said Huxhold. “The Marines and sailors are making that happen. One of my challenges will be balancing my team here with 3/11 in Twentynine Palms and 5/11 at Camp Pendleton. The Marines will make it happen.”Huxhold graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md., and was commissioned an officer of Marines in May 1987. His personal decorations include three Meritorious Service Medals, two Navy Marine Corps Commendation Medals and the Navy Marine Corps Achievement Medal.After the ceremony, guests and family members, as well as battalion personnel, were treated to a barbecue lunch at the battalion command post to conclude the event.Fairfield said he would miss the Combat Center as he departs for Harvard University in Boston for advanced studies, but is thankful he will be able to spend more time with his family.
Headquarters Marine Corps