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Old Breed welcomes new commander

1 Jul 2009 | Cpl. Zachary Nola

Major Gen. Richard P. Mills assumed command of 1st Marine Division from Major Gen. Thomas D. Waldhauser during a change-of-command ceremony in front of division headquarters, July 1.

Mills takes command of 1st Marine Division after serving as the Assistant Division Commander of 1st Marine Division since Sept. 2007, with part of that time concurrently serving as the commander of Ground Combat Element, Multi-National Forces-West, in al-Anbar, Iraq, from Oct. 2007 to Jan. 2009.

Mills told the crowd about how everyday he will be reminded of his duties as the commanding officer.

“When you go up the ladderwell of the command deck, on the wall there is a photograph of every general officer that has ever commanded the 1st Marine Division,” Mills said. “You can’t help when you walk by but feel their eyeballs on you and you know what they’re saying and you know what they’re thinking. 

“It’s a privilege for you to be here for a couple years, it’s a privilege for you to take the helm of this division, it’s a privilege for you to lead the Marines who are in the division,” Mills said. “Don’t ever forget what they expect of you, it’s a 24-7 job, it demands all your attention, and all your energy and all your spirit.”

Mills, whose previous commands include the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, 3rd Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment and subsequently Battalion Landing Team 3/6, also thanked friends, family and fellow Marines.

Mills thanked the many civilian supporters of the division, such as the 1st Marine Division Association, Marine Corps Community Services, and Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and reflected on growing up during the Vietnam era when such civilian support was not prevalent.  

“You do us honor, you do the division honor and we certainly appreciate seeing all of you here,” said Mills, a native of Huntington, N.Y. 

Waldhauser thanked his immediate family, his wife, Sgt. Maj. Micheal P. Barrett, 1st Marine Division sergeant major, and Sgt. Maj. Randall Carter, former division sergeant major, as well as the band.

Waldhauser also made sure to thank the division staff who aided him throughout his tenure as the division commander.

“The Marines of the division, of course, are the heart and soul of what we do.  The Marines of this division are truly amazing,” said Waldhauser, a native of South Saint Paul, Minn. “The bottom line is I’ve just enjoyed coming to work here every day.”

Waldhauser assumed command as the commanding general in September 2007. His next assignment will be at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., where he will serve as the deputy commandant for plans, policy and operations for Headquarters Marine Corps.