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25 Aug 2000 | Sgt Kevin Dolloson 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit

After holding the reins for the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (24th MEU) for two years, Col Richard T. Tryon has passed the privilege on to Col Richard P. Mills, the former officer-in-charge of Special Operations Training Group (SOTG).

Recently picked to command the historic Marine Barracks 8th & I in Washington, DC the outgoing CO put his Johns Hopkins' International Studies degree to good use, leading the 24th MEU through a far-ranging operational plain that included a host of exercises and real-world contingencies.

Colonel Tryon enlisted in the Navy in 1970 and was subsequently commissioned a second lieutenant in June 1975 upon graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy.

After completing The Basic School in April 1976, he held a variety of company grade assignments in 3d Battalion, 5th Marines, served as Aide de Camp to commanding general 1 MAF/1st Marine Division, and completed a tour as company commander, Headquarters Company, 4th Marines in Okinawa.  Upon returning to the United States, he served as operations officer, executive officer and commanding officer of Recruiting Station New York City until attending Amphibious Warfare School in 1983.

Following completion of AWS, he joined 2d Battalion, 5th Marines where he served as company commander and Battalion operations officer. He subsequently attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas in 1987.

During June 1988, he transferred to the Special Operations Command Europe in Stuttgart, Germany where he was assigned to the J-3 as a contingency operations officer. He deployed in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm and served as assistant operations officer, Joint Special Operations Task Force, JTF Proven Force.  Following Operation Desert Storm, he deployed as a member of Joint Special Operations Task Force Provide Comfort operating in Northern Iraq and Southern Turkey.

In July 1991, he was assigned to the Special Operations Training Group, II Marine Expeditionary Force for duty as the director of the Special Missions Branch.  Reassigned during March 1993, he served as commanding officer 2d Battalion, 8th Marines until February 1995.

Following his tour with the 2d Marine Division he was assigned to the Joint Staff as deputy executive assistant to the vice chairman until August 1997. From September 1997, until he was assigned to the 24th MEU he attended the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Now after completing two successful deployments, Col Tryon is on his way to command the "Oldest Post in the Corps" -
Marine Barracks 8th & I.

Col Mills, a native of Huntington, N.Y., graduated from Franklin and Marshall College.

He was commissioned in 1975 via the Officer Candidate School. Following The Basic School, he reported to 1st Battalion, 5th Marines where he served as a Platoon Commander, Company Executive Officer, and the Battalion Adjutant.  During 1978 and 1979, Lieutenant Mills served with Headquarters Battalion, 3d Marine Division on Okinawa.

Upon his return to CONUS in 1979, Lieutenant Mills was assigned to the 2d Recruit Training Battalion, MCRD, Parris Island as a Series Commander. Promoted to Captain in 1980 he served as the Battalion S-4 and subsequently as the Commanding Officer of D Company.

Following AWS in 1983, Captain Mills reported to the 2d Marine Division where he commanded A Company, 1st Battalion, 6th Marines and later served as the Regimental Assistant Operations Officer.

Major Mills was assigned to the Officer Assignment Branch, Headquarters Marine Corps from 1986 until 1989.  After completing a subsequent school assignment, he stood a one-year tour as a Senior Military Observer with the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in Palestine.   Returning to CONUS in 1991, Major Mills reported to Marine Air Group 29, 2d MAW for duty as the Air/Ground Liaison Officer.

As the Operations Officer, 26 MEU (SOC) from 1993 until 1995, Lieutenant Colonel Mills was participated in Operations Provide Comfort, Restore Hope, Deny Flight, and Sharp Guard. During this tour with II MEF he also served as the Operations Officer, Special Operations Training Group (SOTG).  From 1995 until 1997, LtCol Mills was assigned to the staff of the Commander, Sixth Fleet in Gaeta, Italy, as the Amphibious Exercise Officer and Assistant Fleet Marine Officer.

Lieutenant Colonel Mills returned to the 2d Marine Division in 1997 for duty as Commanding Officer, 3d Battalion 6th Marines and concurrently as Commanding Officer, BLT 3/6, 24 MEU (SOC).  While deployed, the BLT participated in Operations Deny Flight in the Balkans and Desert Thunder in Kuwait.  In 1999 Colonel Mills departed 2d Marine Division for duty as a student in the United Kingdom. 

Colonel Mills' most recent assignment was as the Officer In Charge, SOTG, II MEF.
Colonel Mills holds a Masters Degree in Business and has attended the Amphibious Warfare School, the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, the Naval War College, and the Royal College of Defense Studies, London, England.

His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (Gold Star in lieu of 3d award), The Joint Service Commendation Medal, The Navy- Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and The Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medal.

Colonel Mills is happily married to the former Patricia Jacobson of New York, New York. They have six children Tamara (Lt(JG) USN), Robert, Peter, Patrick, Andrew, and Max.

Mills said his tour with SOTG has helped prepare him for the upcoming expeditionary deployments by bringing him up to date with the equipment and tactics of special operations forces.

"We need to be ready to deploy and ready to respond to anything that happens, whether it's expected or unexpected," said Mills. "I have total commitment to their readiness to deploy."

Mills stressed his dedication to his Marines and Sailors, and offered this piece of advice to his officers and staff noncommissioned officers, "Be ready to lead - twenty fours hours a day, seven days a week. You must be constantly dedicated to your Marines - you must be in tune to constant leadership, constant supervision."