The U.S. Marine Corps Special Operations Command bid farewell to its commander and welcomed a new one at a ceremony filled with dignitaries August 24 at the MARSOC Headquarters on Stone Bay.
Maj. Gen. Paul Lefebvre retired during a small, private ceremony directly before handing command of Marine Corps special operations to Maj. Gen. Mark Clark at an elaborate ceremony in which Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. John Amos and Commander of U.S. Special Operations Command Adm. William McRaven were present, as well as multiple other dignitaries to include the 29th commandant of the Marine Corps, retired Gen. Alfred Gray, and the 13th sergeant major of the Marine Corps, retired Sgt. Maj. Lewis Lee.
Lefebvre, like former 2nd Marine Division Commanding General Maj. Gen. John Toolan, had the opportunity to honor his Marines for one last time during his change of command ceremony, by presenting one of them the Silver Star for his heroic acts during a recent deployment to Afghanistan.
Gunnery Sgt. Joseph Lurz, of 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, served as team leader to a group of MARSOC Marines who thwarted more than 100 enemy attacks from October to December 2010. He assumed command of the team only after the team's original leader was wounded and evacuated, but did so seamlessly, and aggressively employed the unit during the remaining five months of the deployment. He and his team effectively neutralized more than 100 insurgents and countless improvised explosive devices, according to the citation signed by the commandant.
"By his zealous initiative, courageous actions and selfless dedication to duty, Gunnery Sergeant Lurz reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps," read the citation from the commandant to the president.
After presenting the award to Lurz, Lefebvre ceremoniously passed the colors to Clark, to signify the transfer of authority and responsibility of the MARSOC command. Lefebvre delivered a speech to the crowd in which he attributed the success of his 35-year career in the Marine Corps to his longtime leader and friend -- the commandant.
Lefebvre also spoke of the challenges of commanding the more than 2,000 Marines and sailors in the MARSOC family, of which 600 are currently deployed and another 750 are training to deploy.
He said he knows that Clark "understands the challenges. He understands what (MARSOC is) trying to do here; but more important than that, he's a great leader."
Clark said he's certainly up for the challenge, as he's "admired MARSOC from the perimeter for a long time."
Clark added that although Lefebvre will be a hard act to follow, it "really is a humbling honor to be a part of the (MARSOC) team."