MARFORPAC bids farewell to Robling, welcomes Toolan
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - In a change of command ceremony, Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling relinquished command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, to Lt. Gen. John A. Toolan, Aug. 15, at Marine Corps Base Hawaii. The event also marks the end of a 38-year-long career for Robling, who retired after relinquishing command.
The change of command, which is normally conducted every two years, included a demonstration of Marine Corps drill from representatives of MARFORPAC units, including I Marine Expeditionary Force, III MEF, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Korea, and the MARFORPAC Band. Also making special appearances were distinguished visitors, including the 35th Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James F. Amos, more than 60 flag and general officers, members of the Consular Corps from partner Pacific nations, and U.S. government officials.
“Today, we are celebrating the coming and going of leaders that have been hand selected by the leadership of this nation to take on the vast responsibility for the security of U.S. citizens, of U.S. interests, the security and help of our allies and our partners, and in general, the security of the way of life our children and grandchildren will come to enjoy,” said Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, commander of U.S. Pacific Command. “The going part is always the hard part. We will miss your leadership, but we will see you on the other side.”
Robling has served as commander of MARFORPAC since 2012. He entered the Marine Corps in 1976 and earned his flight wings after training in 1978. He flew F-4 Phantoms while at Marine Corps Air Station Kaneohe Bay early in his career.
His time as a pilot earned him the call sign “Guts,” which is the name by which some guest speakers referred to him during the ceremony.
“Thirty-eight years ago Lt. Robling was flying phantoms out here,” Amos said. “I think it’s only fitting that the trade winds are blowing today, at the end (of your career). (Gen. Robling’s) call sign says it all. You’ve got to have the courage to do the right things; the courage of your convictions. Terry Robling got the call sign and earned it as well.”
Amos also spoke to the formations of Marines and visitors to welcome Toolan as the new commander of the Marine Corps’ Pacific region.
“He’s the only general, infantry officer that I know that smiles in his (official) portrait,” Amos said laughing. “So that gives you a sense of the character of John Toolan.”
Toolan, who was previously commanding general, I MEF, thanked those in attendance and spoke to Robling, who was not only a colleague but a friend.
“Terry, 38 years ago we were second lieutenants in school, and when you handed me that flag today, I said I couldn’t believe 38 years have gone by (already).” Toolan said. “I couldn’t follow a guy with more class than you, and you set me up for success so thank you very much.
“I know I have some big shoes to fill,” he added. “But ‘Guts’ has left a great team in place. I’m looking forward to carrying out our mission here. We are going to ensure these Marines are taken care of.”
At the end of the ceremonies, Robling reflected back on his career, saying, “If I could do it all again, not fixing any of the many, many, many mistakes I made along the way, I would. Semper Fidelis.”