Fort Leonard Wood’s Marines said farewell to Col. Ralph Rizzo and welcomed Col. Charles Long, who took command of the Marine Corps Detachment here in a change-of-command ceremony July 17 at the John B. Mahaffey Museum Complex’s Engineer Regimental Room.
Brig. Gen. Brian Bisacre, U.S. Army Military Police School commandant, presided over the ceremony in place of Brig. Gen. Jason Morris, Commanding General of Marine Training Command in Quantico, Virginia, who was unable to attend in person.
Bisacre said Rizzo has done an incredible job over the past two years, not only commanding the Marines stationed here, but also being a valuable member of the joint-service team on Fort Leonard Wood.
“You’ve been such a great teammate of Fort Leonard Wood and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence,” he said. “There’s a saying, ‘so goes the leader, so goes the unit’ – you’ve led well, and your unit has done well.”
Bisacre also welcomed Long.
“You’re walking into a great detachment, with great leadership in a great community,” he said.
In a letter, Morris said Rizzo’s “diligent and focused efforts” improved mission capabilities and quality of life for Marines stationed at Fort Leonard Wood.
“Congratulations on the successful conclusion of your command tour at Fort Leonard Wood, and thank you for your steadfast dedication to the detachment’s mission, its team members and the Maneuver Support Center of Excellence,” he said. “You have exceeded my expectations. Your time as the detachment’s commanding officer has brought tremendous progress in not only the accomplishment of your mission, but in the simultaneous increase in the welfare of your Marines. Your accomplishments during this tour reflect your hard work, loyalty, character and professionalism.”
Morris welcomed Long to Fort Leonard Wood and “the Training Command team.”
“Your career has thoroughly prepared you well for the continued and unique challenges the Marine Corps Detachment Fort Leonard Wood will face as our Corps transitions to distributed maritime operations with (Fleet Marine Force) 2030,” he said. “I have full trust and confidence in you as you assume command.”
Rizzo is departing Fort Leonard Wood and heading to Okinawa, Japan, where he will be the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force logistics officer. He thanked his fellow commanders on the installation on behalf of himself and his wife, Mila.
“Thank you all for the support that the detachment has received, but that Mila and I personally have received from you in the form of friendship,” he said. “That mattered very much to us coming in here to a sister-service installation, that so quickly there were no walls or barriers with any of the senior ranks … Mila and I appreciate that welcome-ness very much and we have made life-long friends here.”
To his detachment team, Rizzo said “well done.”
Long comes to Fort Leonard Wood from 3rd Marine Division in Okinawa, Japan. He thanked the mentors who have given him guidance and his family for their support.
“I am honored and I am humbled to be able to stand in this position,” he said. “Our mission is to build Marines for the 21st Century to fight tonight … I live that every day. To the Marines of the detachment, I just want to tell you that I am 100 percent committed to you, your families and to our mission.”
The Fort Leonard Wood Marine Corps Detachment annually trains more than 7,000 Marines to perform duties such as engineer equipment and motor transport operators, military police and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialists.