24th MEU (SOC) bids farewell to Col. Mills, welcomes Col. Johnson

6 Jun 2003 | Sgt. Zachary A. Bathon

Col. Richard Mills, Commanding Officer, 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable), will pass the unit colors on to Col. Ron Johnson during a ceremony tomorrow in front of Building H-1 in the
Hospital Point Area of Camp Lejeune, N.C.

Mills, a native of Huntington, N.Y., recently returned from a nine-month deployment with the MEU, during which time the unit participated in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.  He will now move on to assume duties as the Deputy Chief of Staff for U.S. European Command in Stuttgart-Vaihingen, Germany.

Col. Mills received his commission in 1975 and served as a platoon commander, company executive officer and battalion adjutant for 1st Battalion 5th Marines.

He has also served as a series commander and company commander for 2nd Recruit Training Battalion Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island. Mills also served as a company commanding officer for Alpha Company, 1st Bn., 6th Marines.

Some other highlights of his career include Amphibious Warfare School, Command and Staff College and a one-year tour as a Senior Military Observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Palestine.

Following those assignments, Mills served as the operations officer for the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit and as the operations officer for the Special Operations Training Group.

Before taking over the 24th MEU, Mills served as the commanding officer for the 3rd Bn., 6th Marines and spent a year studying at the Royal College of Defense Studies, London, England.

His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (Gold Star in lieu of 4th award), The Joint Service Commendation Medal, The Navy- Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and The Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Under Mills' command, the 24th MEU (SOC) participated in operations and exercises throughout Europe, the Former Soviet Union, Africa, and the Middle East, including two tours of peace support operations in Kosovo and combat operations in Iraq.

Col. Johnson also recently returned from Operation Iraqi Freedom, where he served as the Current Operations Officer for the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

Johnson received his commission in 1980 and served as a platoon and company commander for 1st Bn., 2nd Marines and as company commander Ground Defense Force in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Following completion of the Amphibious Warfare School in May 1986, Johnson was assigned as a military observer with the United Nations in Lebanon and the Sinai then as a company commander and operations officer with 3rd Bn., 2nd Marines.
He then attended Command and Staff College and was assigned as the operations instructor for the Amphibious Warfare School.

Before serving with the 2nd MEB, Johnson served as the commanding officer for 3rd Bn., 6th Marines and was assigned to Plans, Policies and Operations section of Headquarters Marine Corps.

Col. Johnson's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with
Gold Star, Joint Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, and Combat Action Ribbon.