The Mountain Warfare Training Center will hold its change of command ceremony 10 a.m. June 5.
Col. Phillip Chandler will relinquish the position to Lt. Col. John Carroll, Jr., after leading the center for two years.
Chandler, a Monroeville, Ala., native, was instrumental in modernizing both the infrastructure and training curriculum at the command, the nation's premier mountain warfare and cold weather training center.
During his time as the commanding officer, Chandler drew on his combat experience to overhaul the unit and individual training courses taught at the center, refocusing them towards supporting units deploying for Afghanistan and ensuring Marine units remain ready to respond to potential crises in other mountainous parts of the world. Training updates included integration of the most recent enemy tactics, techniques and procedures, integration of summer and winter military mountaineering skills such as horsemanship, scout skiing, assault climbing and other specialized and technical skill sets needed to operate in such a challenging environment.
More than 25,000 Marines, sailors, and personnel from sister services and allied countries conducted training aboard the installation each year of Chandler's command. He also led the modernization of the facilities aboard the installation, including a renovation of the dining facility, fire station and barracks and the building of a new Child Development Center and Family Resource Center, a new commissary and Marine Corps Exchange in the Coleville Military Housing Area.
Carroll, a Mt. Gilead, N.C., native, has served as the center's executive officer since late January. As a command team, the duo forged their two-man team during one of the most difficult moments in the MWTC's history.
On Feb. 3, a sudden gas leak at a residence in the Coleville Military Housing Area sparked an explosion that leveled a duplex unit, killing a Marine's wife and seriously injuring two other people. Immediately following the blast, Chandler was among the first on scene, pulling victims from the wreckage while simultaneously directing the stand-up of the command's Emergency Operations Center. Over the next seven days, Chandler, Carroll and their staff supervised the recovery of operations in the neighborhood, systematic safety inspections of the area utilities and structures and the care and feeding of the 38 families initially displaced. The team coordinated support from across multiple agencies, including the Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Lincoln Military Housing, the Red Cross and several area and state regulatory bodies.
As a testament to the leaders' thoroughness and dedication to ensuring their safety, every family who lived in the neighborhood prior to the blast who did not suffer major injury or loss voluntarily chose to move back into the housing community within the week.
The MWTC marked its 60th anniversary last fall and thanks to Chandler's diligent efforts and involved leadership and the continued stewardship of Carroll, the center is in a good position to continue its critical role in ensuring the readiness and superior training of the Marine Corps, our joint partners and our nation's allies for decades to come.
Chandler will report to Marine Central Command (Forward) in Bahrain for services as the operations officer. He will be presented with the Legion of Merit by the Commanding General of Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command, Brig. Gen. George W. Smith, Jr., for his actions as MWTC Commanding Officer.