Gen. James T. Conway relinquished his post as commandant of the United States Marine Corps to Gen. James F. Amos during a passage of command ceremony held at Marine Barracks Washington Oct. 22.
Amos becomes the first career aviator in the Corps’ 235-year history to be appointed commandant and only the second assistant commandant in almost 30 years to be promoted to the Corps’ top post.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen were in attendance alongside family and friends as Conway passed the Marine Corps Colors to Amos, marking the end of Conway’s 40-year military career.
During his speech, Gates praised Conway's achievements as commandant, including establishing the Wounded Warrior Regiment and increasing the size of the Marine Corps to 202,000.
“As commandant, [Conway] made the health of the force a top priority, ensuring his Marines had the right tools for the job and new Marines were of the highest quality,” Gates said.
Gates awarded Conway with the Distinguished Service Medal for his outstanding service to the Corps.
Gates reiterated his trust in Amos as commandant and challenged him to think about the future of the Corps.
“As the Marines look to the future, I’ve challenged them to think hard about their role,” Gates said. “They have spent the past eight years fighting as a so-called second land Army. They need to preserve both their maritime soul and the hard-won counterinsurgency skills they've developed during this past decade."
After receiving the Marine Corps colors, Amos, who became the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps, said “he was about to jump out of his skin.”
During his remarks, Amos reminded those in attendance of what the Marine Corps has achieved as an amphibious force over the last year, including humanitarian operations in Haiti and the capture of pirates off the coast of Somalia.
Ending the ceremony, Amos expressed his goal for the future of the Corps.
“We’ve always said we’d be most ready when the nation is least ready,” Amos said. “Our nation still needs that force. That will be my focus as commandant for the next four years.”