Marines

Slaughter leaves 1st Tanks, Corps as Stopa takes command of tankers

22 Jun 2006 | Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes

Commanding officer of 1st Tank Battalion, Lt. Col. Aaron T. Slaughter, retired from the Marine Corps and relinquished his command to Lt. Col. James B. Stopa in a change of command ceremony June 22 on the commanding general’s parade field.

Slaughter had been a part of 1st Tank Battalion since 2001 as the battalion executive officer; he became deputy director of Tactical Training Exercise Control Group in 2002. In June 2004 he rejoined 1st Tank Battalion as the battalion commander.

Slaughter began his tour in the Marine Corps when he was commissioned in 1986 through the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Course. His first assignment was with 2nd Tank Battalion where he served as a platoon commander in 1987. During this period, he deployed to Camp Fuji, Japan, and later to Okinawa and Korea, serving as a tank platoon commander and a fire support coordinator.

From 1989 to 1992, Slaughter served as the operations officer at Recruiting Station Baltimore. He joined 1st Tank Battalion in 1993, serving as the maintenance management officer, Alpha Company commander and assistant operations officer until 1995. In 1997 he served as a systems engineer at United States Transportation Command until he was stationed at the Combat Center in 2001.

Slaughter is a graduate of Hickman High School and Tulane University. He achieved a Masters of Science from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Masters of Military Studies from Marine Corps University. He is also a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Armor Officer Advanced Course and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.
During the ceremony, Slaughter expressed thanks and appreciation to the service men of 1st Tanks, key volunteers and those who gave him guidance in his career.

“We’ve been on numerous deployments, deploying all over the world to defend the country against terrorists,” said Slaughter facing the battalion formation. “The hardest part was dealing with our comrades who have died.

“You know how much all of you mean to me,” added the Columbia, Mo., native. “We talked about love before, and I know you all considered it real odd that ‘our C.O. is talking about love.’ But follow the golden rule, take care of each other and hold each other responsible for what they do.”

Slaughter’s wife, Andrea, and children, Jacob, Michael and Katherine were all present at the ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, also spoke to the guest during the ceremony.

“This is a very special day for Aaron and his family, but also very emotional,” said Natonski. “Aaron is a tanker ‘par excellence.’ The work he has done with the battalion will be part of the tanker legacy.

“Welcome, Lt. Col. Stopa, to 1st Marine Division and 1st Tanks,” continued Natonski, addressing the battalion’s new commanding officer. “You come well-qualified, and I know you’re suited for the job, so welcome aboard and have fun.”

The battalion’s new commanding officer hails from Niagara Falls, N.Y. After the first semester of his senior year at State University of New York at Buffalo, Stopa took a semester off to attend recruit training January 1986 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. After completion of entry level training and communication school, he was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 8th Tank Battalion, Rochester, N.Y., in June 1986 as a field wireman.

In the spring of 1988, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Science Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Buffalo. Shortly after graduation, he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in April 1989.

From 1990 to 1993, Stopa was assigned to 2nd Tank Battalion where he served as  a tank platoon commander. He then returned to MCRD Parris Island as a series officer, company executive officer and commanding officer of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion until 1996.

Stopa made his first debut to 1st Tank Battalion in September 1996 and served as the battalion assistant logistics officer, commanding officer of Charlie Company and battalion operations officer until 1998. Almost eight years later, he returned to the battalion to assume command.

“I am honored and privileged to stand here today,” Stopa said to the Marines and Sailors of the battalion. “I look forward to meeting and working with each and every single one of you.”

Stopa is married to the former Paula Austin of Ransomville, N.Y.  They have three children, Alyssa, Alexa and James. Lance Cpl. Michael S. Cifuentes
Combat Correspondent

Commanding officer of 1st Tank Battalion, Lt. Col. Aaron T. Slaughter, retired from the Marine Corps and relinquished his command to Lt. Col. James B. Stopa in a change of command ceremony June 22 on the commanding general’s parade field.

Slaughter had been a part of 1st Tank Battalion since 2001 as the battalion executive officer; he became deputy director of Tactical Training Exercise Control Group in 2002. In June 2004 he rejoined 1st Tank Battalion as the battalion commander.

Slaughter began his tour in the Marine Corps when he was commissioned in 1986 through the Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Course. His first assignment was with 2nd Tank Battalion where he served as a platoon commander in 1987. During this period, he deployed to Camp Fuji, Japan, and later to Okinawa and Korea, serving as a tank platoon commander and a fire support coordinator.

From 1989 to 1992, Slaughter served as the operations officer at Recruiting Station Baltimore. He joined 1st Tank Battalion in 1993, serving as the maintenance management officer, Alpha Company commander and assistant operations officer until 1995. In 1997 he served as a systems engineer at United States Transportation Command until he was stationed at the Combat Center in 2001.

Slaughter is a graduate of Hickman High School and Tulane University. He achieved a Masters of Science from the Naval Postgraduate School and a Masters of Military Studies from Marine Corps University. He is also a graduate of the Armor Officer Basic Course, the Armor Officer Advanced Course and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College.
During the ceremony, Slaughter expressed thanks and appreciation to the service men of 1st Tanks, key volunteers and those who gave him guidance in his career.

“We’ve been on numerous deployments, deploying all over the world to defend the country against terrorists,” said Slaughter facing the battalion formation. “The hardest part was dealing with our comrades who have died.

“You know how much all of you mean to me,” added the Columbia, Mo., native. “We talked about love before, and I know you all considered it real odd that ‘our C.O. is talking about love.’ But follow the golden rule, take care of each other and hold each other responsible for what they do.”

Slaughter’s wife, Andrea, and children, Jacob, Michael and Katherine were all present at the ceremony.

Maj. Gen. Richard F. Natonski, commanding general of 1st Marine Division, also spoke to the guest during the ceremony.

“This is a very special day for Aaron and his family, but also very emotional,” said Natonski. “Aaron is a tanker ‘par excellence.’ The work he has done with the battalion will be part of the tanker legacy.

“Welcome, Lt. Col. Stopa, to 1st Marine Division and 1st Tanks,” continued Natonski, addressing the battalion’s new commanding officer. “You come well-qualified, and I know you’re suited for the job, so welcome aboard and have fun.”

The battalion’s new commanding officer hails from Niagara Falls, N.Y. After the first semester of his senior year at State University of New York at Buffalo, Stopa took a semester off to attend recruit training January 1986 at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C. After completion of entry level training and communication school, he was assigned to Headquarters and Service Company, 8th Tank Battalion, Rochester, N.Y., in June 1986 as a field wireman.

In the spring of 1988, he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Social Science Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Buffalo. Shortly after graduation, he attended Officer Candidate School and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in April 1989.

From 1990 to 1993, Stopa was assigned to 2nd Tank Battalion where he served as  a tank platoon commander. He then returned to MCRD Parris Island as a series officer, company executive officer and commanding officer of Charlie Company, 1st Recruit Training Battalion until 1996.

Stopa made his first debut to 1st Tank Battalion in September 1996 and served as the battalion assistant logistics officer, commanding officer of Charlie Company and battalion operations officer until 1998. Almost eight years later, he returned to the battalion to assume command.

“I am honored and privileged to stand here today,” Stopa said to the Marines and Sailors of the battalion. “I look forward to meeting and working with each and every single one of you.”

Stopa is married to the former Paula Austin of Ransomville, N.Y.  They have three children, Alyssa, Alexa and James.
Headquarters Marine Corps