CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan - -- CAMP COURTNEY, Okinawa, Japan - III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General, Lt. Gen. Lawrence D. Nicholson, relinquished his post to Lt. Gen. Eric M. Smith during a change of command ceremony, Aug. 2, 2018, at Camp Courtney, Okinawa, Japan.
The ceremony marked both the arrival of a new commanding general and the conclusion of Nicholson’s 39 years of dedicated service to the Marine Corps.
“Through good days and bad,” Nicholson said, “the support, the gracious hospitality, the warm embrace of our Okinawan friends and neighbors, is apparent to all of us every day.”
Prior to assuming command of III MEF, Smith served as the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, the largest and oldest active duty division in the Marine Corps. Smith is a native of Plano, Texas and this is his first time stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
Nicholson described his personal experience with Smith, referring to him as “tough as nails” when reminiscing about their time in Ramadi. During the ceremony, Smith expressed an optimistic outlook on his future with III MEF.
“I am proud to be two things tonight: I’m proud to be the newest member of III Marine Expeditionary Force and I’m proud to be the newest resident of Okinawa.”
III MEF provides the United States with a forward-deployed force in readiness in the Pacific Theater. It is a globally responsive, expeditionary, and fully scalable Marine Air Ground Task Force, capable of employing forces for operations ranging from crisis response to major combat.
“We’ll do everything we can to make sure this expeditionary force is ready to fight and win tonight,” said Smith.