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OIF/OEF Marine Commander Relinquishes Command of Pacific
by Cpl. Luis R. Agostini
Marine Corps News
August 4, 2003

MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII, Kaneohe Bay -- After two years as commander of the largest field command in the Marine Corps, with nearly 18 months spent leading Marine Forces in the war on terrorism, Lt. Gen. Earl B. Hailston ceremonially passed the Marine Forces Pacific colors to Lt. Gen. Wallace C. Gregson in a ceremony here Wednesday.

Among those in attendance was Gen. Michael W. Hagee, Commandant of the Marine Corps, Lt. Gen. Edward Hanlon, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Command Development Command, Sergeant Maj. John Estrada, Sergeant Major of the Marine Corps, Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle, State Rep. Mark Moses (A former Marine), Jim Nabors and Andy Griffith.

While the ceremony took place here Wednesday, the actual change of command occurred Saturday.

Lt. Gen. Hailston will retire later this year.

During the two years he served as commander of MarForPac, Lt. Gen. Hailston oversaw various exercises and operations, including Ulchi Focus Lens 2001 and 2002, Bright Star 2001 and Marine Central Command's involvement during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Orginally a private when he started his Marine Corps career in 1967, Lt. Gen. Hailston has been known as a staunch supporter of the enlisted Marine.

"These Marines have done great things," said Lt. Gen. Hailston. ?It?s because of them that we?re able to do the things we are. To them, I say ?Thank You.??

The incoming commander, Lt. Gen. Gregson, comes from Japan, where he served as the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Commander, Marine Corps Bases, Japan, and Commander, Marine Forces Japan.

A 1968 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Lt. Gen. Gregson served with the 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, in the Republic of Vietnam, from February 1969 to August 1970.

Operational assignments included infantry battalion executive officer, division staff duty, headquarters battalion executive officer, operations officer (G-3) of I Marine Expeditionary Force, and assistant operations officer (J-3A) of Unified Task Force Somalia during Operation Restore Hope. He has commanded an infantry company; Headquarters Battalion, 1st Marine Division; 1st Battalion, 5th Marines; 7th Marine Regiment; and 3d Marine Division.

His professional military education includes the U.S. Army Infantry Officers Advanced Course, Marine Corps Command and Staff College, the Naval War College, and a tour as a Military Fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.

He earned a bachelor's degree from the U.S. Naval Academy and master's degrees in strategic planning from the Naval War College and international relations from Salve Regina College.

His personal awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit (3d award), Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Bronze Star Medal with Combat "V", and the Purple Heart.

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