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New Orleans based Marine Corps Command receives new Commander – incumbent retires after 35 years

Photo by MARFORRES COMMSTRAT

New Orleans based Marine Corps Command receives new Commander – incumbent retires after 35 years

25 Mar 2024 | Lance Cpl. Sarah Pysher U.S. Marine Corps Forces Reserve

Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces South held a change of command ceremony March 21, 2024, here.

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. David Bellon relinquished command to Lt. Gen. Leonard Anderson IV during a change of command ceremony at Marine Corps Support Facility New Orleans. Later that day, Bellon retired from the Marine Corps after 35 years of faithful service at a separate ceremony at the National World War II Museum.

Bellon, a native of Fort Polk, Louisiana, took command of Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces North in 2019. The latter command relocated to Norfolk, Virginia, in 2020. Bellon assumed command of Marine Forces South in 2022 when it relocated from Doral, Florida to here.

Prior to assuming his new command, Anderson served as commanding general of 4th Marine Aircraft Wing in New Orleans.

Gen. Eric Smith, 39th Commandant of the Marine Corps, presided over the change of command. Smith explained to the crowd looking upon the formation of Marines that as Bellon was relieved of duty, Anderson had big shoes to fill.

“This is two full-time jobs that you’ve handled masterfully,” Smith said to Bellon. “We’ve asked a lot of our (Reserve Marines), and we were lucky to have you in the seat. You’ve held the line. Well done my friend, you are irreplaceable.”

Smith, who served with Bellon at the Battle of Fallujah, praised him for his outstanding work commanding two force-level commands. He then went on to express his confidence in Anderson’s ability to follow in Bellon’s footsteps.

“But if we are trying to replace Dave Bellon, we couldn’t pick anyone better than Loni Anderson. Loni, you’ve got the gusto to make things happen. We can’t wait to see what you do with the place,” Smith said.

Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces South, abbreviated as MARFORRES and MARFORSOUTH, hosts a unique command structure with a single commander serving as the leader of both organizations. MARFORRES is comprised of four major subordinate commands: 4th Marine Aircraft Wing, 4th Marine Division, 4th Marine Logistics Group and Force Headquarters Group; and one major support element: Marine Innovation Unit. It was activated June 6, 1992, following lessons learned about Reserve activations during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

“But if we are trying to replace Dave Bellon, we couldn’t pick anyone better than Loni Anderson. Loni, you’ve got the gusto to make things happen. We can’t wait to see what you do with the place”.Gen. Eric Smith, 39th Commandant of the Marine Corps

MARFORSOUTH is the Service component of U.S. Southern Command, responsible for all U.S. Marine activity in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. MARFORSOUTH provides contingency planning, operations, and security cooperation plans to deter aggression, defeat threats, rapidly respond to crises, and build regional capacity, working with our allies, partner nations, and U.S. government team members to enhance security and help defend the U.S. homeland and our national interests.

During the ceremony, Bellon explained the formation of Marines standing behind him represented more than 90,000 Marines who are a part of MARFORRES and MARFORSOUTH. He wished Anderson luck with taking charge of this mass amount of responsibility and expressed his gratitude to take on such a challenge.

“There is an ongoing contingency that Anderson is now is responsible for. This institution does not miss a beat, and what an amazing opportunity to be a part of it,” said Bellon.

Proud legacy continues: Marine Forces Reserve and Marine Forces South change of command ceremony Photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Cooper
U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Leonard F. Anderson IV, left, shakes hands with Gen. Eric M. Smith, the 39th Commandant of the Marine Corps, during a change of command ceremony at the Marine Corps Support Facility, New Orleans, March 21, 2024. Bellon retired after 35 years of faithful service in the Marine Corps’ active and reserve component. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Casey Cooper)

Following the change of command, Bellon escorted guests to his retirement ceremony at the National World War II Museum. Bellon was retired by his longtime friend and colleague, retired Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Austin Renforth, who served with Bellon early in their careers.

“There are givers and takers in this world,” Renforth said. “Dave is a giver; he defines selfless service.”

Bellon was presented with a Distinguished Service Medal, a letter from the Commandant of the Marine Corps and a folded American flag flown at the Marine Corps War Memorial in Arlington Virginia, March 12, 2024. It is customary to present a retiring Marine with the National Colors as a token of appreciation from a grateful nation for dedicated and faithful service.

Bellon spoke about his loving family and how they supported him through his career. He thanked all the friends he had made, and Marines lost along the way.

He ended the ceremony by saying, “This is the gift of service. When you join an institution where the standards are excellence and selflessness, you subordinate yourself to be successful as a team. If you live in that life long enough, you just become a better person. How blessed am I?”

Interested in more information about MARFORRES and MARFORSOUTH? Please visit www.marforres.marines.mil or www.marforsouth.marine.mil or on social media at:

 

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WHO WE ARE: The United States Marine Corps Reserve is responsible for providing trained units and qualified individuals for mobilization to active duty in time of war, national emergency, and crisis or contingency operations. On a day-to-day basis, Marine Forces Reserve (MARFORRES) consists of a talented and dedicated pool of nearly 100,000 Marines able to augment the Active Component in a myriad of ways, to include operational deployments, support to training, participation in bi/multi-lateral exercises with partner nations and allies, and service-level experimentation in support of Force Design 2030 and refinement of new concepts, tactics, techniques, and procedures.

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