MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Marines with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit held a change of command ceremony to pass on the organizational colors from Col. Gareth F. Brandl to Col. Eric J. Steidl at the Goettge Field House aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 8, 2010.
Brandl was commissioned in 1983 at Pennsylvania State University through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship program and later earned a master's degree in Management and Human Resources Development.
During Brandl's time as commanding officer, the MEU deployed from May to December 2009 aboard the ships of Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and served as the theater reserve force for U.S. European and Central commands. The 22nd MEU was the first Marine Expeditionary Unit to conduct a ship-based deployment with the MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. This deployment supported the introduction of the Osprey to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
One month after returning, the unit embarked and assisted in Operation Unified Response to provide humanitarian and disaster relief efforts in the country of Haiti. This marked Brandl's final voyage with the unit before moving on to his next duty assignment in Norfolk, Va.
"My satisfaction was seeing a team come together to make a difference," said Brandl. "It was all worth it and an honor to be a part of it all."
Many family members and friends attended the ceremony including the II Marine Expeditionary Force commanding general, Lt. Gen. Dennis J. Hejlik, who complemented Brandl on his work ethic.
"I think the one thing I'm going to remember most about the 22nd MEU is their can-do attitude," said Hejlik, a Garner, Iowa, native. "I have never heard Colonel Brandl say 'we can't do this.'"
Hejlik concluded his speech by describing Brandl with four choice words ... cool, calm, confident and unstoppable.
For 27 months, Brandl wove his legacy into the fabric of this MEU, added Steidl, a Denver native.
Brandl explained he is confident in his successor's abilities as a senior officer to carry on the MEU's heritage.
"I can't say enough about how comfortable I am turning this unit over," said Brandl. "[Steidl] has a positive attitude, is very professional and is going to be a great commander for this MEU."
Steidl graduated from the University of Washington with a bachelor's degree in Geological Oceanography and was later commissioned through the school's NROTC program. The CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter pilot has been forward deployed frequently during his career to include operations' Desert Shield, Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The ceremony concluded with a final thought from the incoming commanding officer whose previous assignment was the Senior United States Marine Corps readiness analyst for the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
"To the Marines and sailors of the 22nd MEU, you have a tremendous reputation for operational readiness and mission accomplishment and your traditional 'balanced excellence' is apparent," said Steidl. "I'm confident in your abilities and am honored to be your new commander as we prepare for the next deployment."