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  • 2017
Passing the Torch: II MEF bids farewell to commander

By Sgt. Gabrielle Petticrew, II Marine Expeditionary Force

Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller, Jr. gives a speech during II Marine Expeditionary Force’s relief, appointment, and retirement ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 14, 2017. During the ceremony, Miller relinquished his post as commanding general of II MEF to Lt. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund as the commanding general of II MEF.
Passing the Torch: II MEF bids farewell to commander
Maj. Gen. Walter L. Miller, Jr. gives a speech during II Marine Expeditionary Force’s relief, appointment, and retirement ceremony at Camp Lejeune, N.C., July 14, 2017. During the ceremony, Miller relinquished his post as commanding general of II MEF to Lt. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund as the commanding general of II MEF.

Major General Walter L. Miller, Jr. capped off his 38-year Marine Corps career during a II Marine Expeditionary Force relief, appointment and retirement ceremony on Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, May 12, 2017.

This relinquishment marked the Texas native's remarkable II MEF tour of duty. Miller, who has served as the II MEF commanding general since October 2015, relinquished his post to Lieutenant General Robert F. Hedelund.

Hedelund, a native of Pompano Beach, Florida, took the post after serving as the commander of Marine Forces Korea and UCJ-5, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea.

“I am humbled today. We are here to honor and celebrate the incredible career of an incredible Marine. Thank you for entrusting me in what I know is a solemn duty, taking of the Marines, sailors, families, and soldiers of II MEF,” said Hedelund. “I want to get to work right away and I look forward to working with you all, Semper Fidelis.”

During his time in the Marine Corps, Miller has held several key staff positions, to include G-3/5, Marine Forces South Liaison Element in the Republic of Panama; Chief of Staff, 4th Marine Division; Assistant Chief of Staff, U.S. European Command; Director for Capabilities Development Directorate, Marine Corps Combat Development Command; and Chief of Staff, U.S. Special Operations Command.

“It has been truly an honor to serve the United States Marine Corps, in particular, the number of years I’ve had the opportunity to serve II MEF,” said Miller. “These Marines back here represent 40,000 of our toughest and best United States citizens. I wish more people had the opportunity to see them on display. This MEF is in every combatant command today. The sun does not set on II Marine Expeditionary Force.”
In addition to his tours in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, Miller has deployed to Japan, Turkey, Kosovo, Djibouti, Kenya, and the Republic of Panama.

General Robert B. Neller, Commandant of the Marine Corps, was in attendance and spoke towards his experience since first working with Miller in 1984.
“We can say a lot of things about [Lt. Gen.] Lee Miller. He’s a professional, he’s competent, a good guy and has a great family,” said Neller. “Everybody loves Lee Miller and I think today is a testament to that.”

Miller received the Distinguished Service Medal during the ceremony. The citation credited him for demonstrating “uncommon vision and boundless dedication in leading the 44,000 Marines and sailors of II MEF as they projected combat power across the globe.”

Over his career, Miller has earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with Gold Star, Bronze Star with Valor, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star and the Navy Achievement Medal.

According to Lt. Gen. Michael G. Dana, Deputy Commandant, Installations and Logistics, and the ceremony’s retiring official, Miller’s legacy is far greater than any individual award he earned during his career. 

“It’s not every day you get to retire your best friend in the Marine Corps, and Lee Miller is my best friend,” said Dana. “What makes you special is your innate ability to listen to Marines, question them to enhance mutual understanding, and then act with conviction and clarity to get the job done. You personify servant leadership. You, more than anyone I have ever met, deeply care for and love your Marines. Your selfless behavior, impeccable morals, and sound values transcend our profession of arms. Of all the men I have ever known, you are the most admirable.”