CAMP COURTNEY, OKINAWA, Japan --
Brig. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla accepted command of 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, from Maj. Gen. Mark A. Brilakis during a ceremony in front of the division’s headquarters on Camp Courtney June 30.
“This is a big day for the III Marine Expeditionary Force. It is a big day for the 3rd Marine Division,” said Lt. Gen. Kenneth J. Glueck Jr., commanding general of III MEF and commander of Marine Corps Bases Japan, of the changing of leadership for the division.
“You’ve absolutely done a superb job here,” Glueck said to Brilakis, the division’s outgoing commanding general. “III MEF is much better today because of the leadership you have provided.”
Glueck reminded Padilla, the incoming commanding general, that the guidance of the Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, is clear.
“He wants us to be prepared for today’s crisis with today’s force, today,” Glueck said, as he charged Padilla to have the division ready to respond when called.
“I am totally confident that with you in the lead, the ‘Fighting 3rd’ will continue to thrive and accomplish every mission assigned to it. Welcome to the team,” said Glueck, in a letter to Padilla read during the ceremony.
Padilla told the service members, JGSDF personnel, family members and friends gathered at the ceremony that he is looking forward to leading the division and being a member of the III MEF team. This is the first tour of duty in Japan for Padilla, who was previously the commanding general of Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., and the Eastern Recruiting Region.
To the division’s Marines and sailors, Padilla said, “I am looking forward to the challenge. I am looking forward to building on the legacies, the history that is the 3rd Marine Division.”
For Brilakis, the day was one of thanks.
During the ceremony, he thanked the many Marines and sailors he served with during his 23 months stationed on Okinawa. He also thanked the friends and mentors he met along the way.
Though Brilakis’ tenure as the division’s top leader was only four months, it was four months filled with activity.
Less than two weeks after accepting command of the division, Brilakis was deployed with elements of the division to Honshu, Japan, to provide command and control for the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission of Operation Tomodachi following the natural disasters that struck Honshu in mid-March. He remained there until early April.
During Brilakis’ command, the division deployed three battalions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and deployed teams to support Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines. Additionally, the division supported several other exercises with partner nations including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines.
“This is just a great team and a great brotherhood,” Brilakis said. “This has been a great opportunity out here in the Western Pacific. The sun never sets on the 3rd Marine Division.
“It is a proud organization. Whatever happens tomorrow, this organization will be ready,” he said.
Brilakis’ next assignment will be as deputy commandant, Programs and Resources, Headquarters, Marine Corps.