Photo: Col. Robert Brodie, right, a member of The Citadel Class of 1994 and the departing commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Col. Michael Nakonieczny, the oncoming commanding officer of the 31st MEU stand in front of the U.S. and unit colors at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, June 25, 2020.
The 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit passage of command from Col. Robert Brodie to Col. Michael Nakonieczny took place at a private event due to COVID-19 force health protection measures, here, June 25. Brodie, a career F/A-18 Hornet Naval Aviator, is from Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and attended The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Nakonieczny, a career Light Armored Reconnaissance Officer is from Buena Park, California, and attended the University of California at Davis.
Over Brodie’s two years in command of the 31st MEU, the unit completed four full unit-deployment cycles including training, exercises, and real-world operations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The 31st MEU continuously operated with combined forces throughout Japan, in the Kingdom of Thailand, the Republic of the Philippines, Australia, and other allied nations often with the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11 aboard ships of the USS Wasp (LHD 1) and USS America (LHA 6) Amphibious Ready Groups. Additionally, the 31st MEU trained as far east as Hawaii, and provided Defense Support of Civil Authorities in Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands on Rota and Tinian in the wake of Typhoons Mangkhut and Yutu, September through November 2018.
Before he passed responsibility of command, Brodie thanked all members of the unit and reflected on his experiences at the only continuously forward-deployed MEU in the Marine Corps.
“We have done a lot of innovative things, I think it has prepared this MEU to respond to crises whether high-end or helping people out,” said Brodie. “I have watched and been inspired by our young Marines – I have seen the best that they have to offer. They have absolute pride, spirit, dignity, and what I have seen out of them and their leadership is overwhelming in accomplishments and achievements. That is where I’m most proud: to be part of an organization which I believe is based in respect and dignity, and inspiring others to be great. I personally believe that the best weapon system that the Marine Corps has is not a rifle, not a tank or airplane, but a United States Marine. Every one of those Marines is a lethal weapon ready to deploy and stand up at a moment’s notice. I could not be happier to turn this great organization to such a great man and his family, to Col. Nakonieczny.”
At the conclusion of the change of command, Nakonieczny expressed appreciation to all Marines that he has worked with throughout his career, while welcoming the challenges to come.
“To the Marines of the 31st MEU, I have watched you with great enthusiasm and I am so eager to join your team,” said Nakonieczny. “Colonel Brodie, I have watched you take it to the next level. I vow to you that I will do my best to exploit the initiative that you have set for this MEU, and I will love these Marines like my family. To those of you in attendance, it is my honor to be here today, and to the team that I am joining, I am so excited and I cannot wait to earn my spot on your team; I will. Semper Fidelis.”