Marines welcome new commander

28 Apr 2011 | Cpl. Salvador Moreno

I Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group welcomed its new leader during a change of command ceremony here April 28.

Col. Lori E.  Reynolds relinquished command of I MHG to Col. Steven M. Hanson. Reynolds, who was recently selected to brigadier general, will assume responsibility as commanding general of Eastern Recruiting Region at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.

“Col. Reynolds did a spectacular job with the I MEF Headquarters Group in preparing them for the deployment to Afghanistan as well as preparing and training the staff here at Camp Pendleton to be able to sustain the typical mission that we are required to fulfill here as well as Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Maj. Walter N. O’Connell, sergeant major of I MHG.

The Baltimore-raised Naval Academy graduate recently returned from a year-long tour in Afghanistan where she served as I MHG’s commanding officer. She is recognized as the first female Marine to command battle space, which included five battalions and a Bahraini company.   She is also credited with taking a base that initially fed, housed and equipped more than 10, 000 Marines and expanded the base to handle an additional 10,000 Marines and sailors to Afghanistan. 

 “It’s really gratifying for a day like this to turn it over to somebody you know and respect,” Reynolds said. “I feel really good about where the group is going to go under his leadership.”

Hanson, who was raised in Minneapolis, began his Marine Corps career in 1976. He recently returned from a year-long deployment to Helmand province, where he served as the Regional Command Southwest director of intelligence.

His 31 years in the Marine Corps cover all three rank structures of leading Marines from multiple positions. He attained the rank of staff sergeant before being appointed a warrant officer in 1984 and then a 2nd lieutenant in 1989.

His combat leadership experience includes deployments to Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and most recently Enduring Freedom.

Hanson is eager to take charge of I MHG and is looking forward to prepare the unit for the next deployment.

“I’ve worked with many of the Marines for MHG so closely over the last year,” Hanson said. “I know it’s a great team, and I know the Marines are very dedicated.  “I’m in an enviable position coming in as a commander on a battle-tested unit.”

Hanson’s personal awards include the Bronze Star Medal with one gold star for operations in Desert Storm, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal with two oak leaf clusters, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, the Joint Service Achievement Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and the Combat Action Ribbon.