Lieutenant Col. Julian M. Tsukano took charge of Marine Detachment Fort Lee Friday morning at a change of command ceremony in the post theater.
Departing Commander Lt. Col. Morina D. Foster formally handed over the organization’s colors as a small audience of MarDet staff and family members observed. Overseeing the formalities was Col. Chip Hall, commander officer, and Sgt. Maj. Jason Cantu, SGM, of the Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico.
The MarDet is responsible for training newly enlisted Marines in 11 military occupational specialties including personnel retrieval and processing; airborne and air delivery; bulk fuel; food service; and various equipment repair fields. It also oversees officer training for mortuary affairs, air delivery, bulk fuel, vehicle maintenance, the Captains Career Course and other functional areas.
Tsukano will lead a staff of approximately 160 permanent party personnel who ensure the success of the detachment. The daily student load is roughly 600 Marines.
In remarks after the flag passing, Hall showered Foster with praise, saying in part, “If we were given a piece of marble and could have chiseled, shaped and created the ideal battalion commander for Marine Detachment Fort Lee, it would have been comprised of everything found inside of (her) bio.”
Foster and her husband Stan “were the ultimate dream team,” he further noted. “They sat out to make a difference, and that’s exactly what they did as noted in the narrative of her (Meritorious Service Medal award citation and letter of gratitude from Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.).
“You not only accomplished the mission, you did it with class,” he continued. “You did it in a way that represents the detachment and the Marine Corps better than anybody could have. I appreciate all of your tremendous efforts. You’ve earned every word in those award documents you have in your hand. I appreciate everything you’ve done for the team.”
Shifting his focus to Tsukano, Hall said if anybody was better placed to pick up Foster’s momentum and continue the mission and take it to the next level, it’s absolutely him.
“The background you bring in – the life experience you and Kirsty bring – is going to be of great benefit to the team,” the colonel said. “The bar is set pretty high, but the conversation we had last week gives me confidence to fully believe you’re the right officer at the right time to take it to that next level, continue the mission, make things better and represent the Marine Corps as only you can. You’ve got my full trust and confidence.”
Foster expressed her thanks to the attending leaders of Training Command as she began her remarks. She also used the opportunity later on to acknowledge the contributions of her husband Stan who, when they first arrived two years ago, paid a visit to every military family support agency on post to gather information that could be shared with the detachment’s personnel.
Those accolades bookended an expected leader’s message to the attending Marines.
“I ask you to continue doing what you’re doing,” she said. “Lt. Col. Tsukano and Kirsty are going to take it to the next level; I know it and I feel it. I’m very happy with where we are. Continue to be the professionals that you are. I’m very proud to have had the opportunity to serve with you.”
Rounding out the remarks, Tsukano assured the Devil Dogs in the audience that he stands ready to lead the way with their support over the next two years.
“I am going to engage with each of you,” he said. “Hopefully, I will have an opportunity to meet your families. I want to learn all of the struggles and hear the ideas that will make this organization better.
“The challenge that awaits us is complex,” he continued. “We have (the global pandemic) from China, the commandant wants to take us in a new direction, and we have our marching orders from Training Command. These are all things I plan on attacking full speed, and I’m going to need your help making all this happen. I look forward to serving with each and every one of you. I’m looking forward to the two years we’ll have together.”