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His legacy is people: Marine retires after 30 faithful years of service

By Sgt. Logan Block | I Marine Expeditionary Force | January 29, 2019

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U.S. Marine Corps Col. James B. Hanlon celebrated his career with friends and family during his retirement ceremony at the Ranch House at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Jan. 11, 2019.

 

Individuals traveled from around the country to attend the ceremony for Hanlon. The ceremony began with remarks from the retiring officer, Lt. Gen. David Berger, Commanding General of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and Deputy Commandant for Combat Development and Integration. The ceremony concluded with remarks from Hanlon. 

 


Hanlon was born and raised in Connecticut and commissioned as a second lieutenant in February 1989. After completion of Officer Candidate School, he attended The Basic School, Infantry Officers Course, and Naval Aviation Flight Training. In 1991, he was designated as a Naval Aviator and a qualified Huey pilot. 

Throughout his 30-year career, Hanlon served in various duties across the Marine Corps. He has deployed in support of all functions within the Marine Air-Ground Task Force for numerous operations, to include Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation United Shield.

“During Operation Iraqi Freedom one, we took Marines in and a lot of us saw combat for the first time,” said Hanlon when asked about one of his toughest times in the Corps. 

 


“We flew in some of the most challenging conditions we had ever flown in because the environment was dark and sandy and these were combat operations. The first time going in there makes an impression and you remember those times.”

One of the greatest highlights of his illustrious career was his selection as a UH-1N Huey instructor at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron One in Yuma, Arizona. It was there that he met his wife of 20 years, Heather. 

 


“I’m very proud of my husband,” said Heather. “I’m very happy about what he has accomplished in the Marine Corps.”

 

While serving at 1st Marine Division nine years ago, Hanlon met Berger and they have remained close since.

 

“He’s the kind of humble leader you want to work around because it’s never about him,” said Berger. “There are a lot of Marines and families who were better for having served with him.”

 

Hanlon’s honorable career presented many opportunities and challenges, but all of it brought family and lifelong friends into his life, and he is excited to see what the future holds.

 

“Being a Marine Officer is all about leading Marines,” Hanlon said. “There’s no better privilege and no better calling from my stand point. I’m going to miss going to work every day and serving with Marines.”
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