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Marine Corps Commandant Change-of-Command
Remarks as Delivered by Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen , Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C., Wednesday, June 30, 1999

Secretary [of the Navy, Richard] Danzig, General Krulak and Zandi, General Krulak’s brothers Vic and Bill, we salute you for your past service, General Jones and Diane Jones, Mrs. James L. Jones, Sr., Mrs. William K. Jones, all of the Jones family, Secretary [of Veterans’ Affairs, Togo] West and Mrs. West, Members of the Joint Chiefs, Members of Congress. I am told there are at least forty here, more than I have ever addressed before in my lifetime. Military leaders, past and present, Janet.

Ladies and gentlemen. Across the long arc of the Twentieth Century, few families have offered more to this nation then those beside us today. Indeed, in every major conflict over the last six decades, these families, Krulak and Jones, have given America their valiant best to preserve our freedom. General Krulak’s father, Lieutenant General Victor Krulak, and General Jones’ father, Colonel Jim Jones, and his uncle, Lieutenant General "Willie K." Jones, led America across the legendary beaches of Tarawa and Tinian, Iwo Jima and Okinawa, through the rugged mountains of Korea, and into the jungles of Vietnam. And it was there that a new generation of Krulak and Jones emerged, carrying on their families’ illustrious lineage, and creating their own inspiring legacies.

Today we are commemorating that noble tradition. We are celebrating the extraordinary life of General Chuck Krulak and the passing of the mantle of leadership to General Jim Jones.

The epic life of Chuck Krulak is indeed one of bravery and brilliance, of heroism in combat in Vietnam, of character and moral courage in speaking out boldly on behalf of America’s men and women in uniform. But the story of Chuck Krulak is more than brave acts. It is also marked by brilliant accomplishment, of incisive analysis in the wake of the Cold War, protecting the Corps and preserving its ability to carry on its historic mission, of creative command in support of Marines in Desert Storm, and, most brilliantly, of his inspired leadership of the Corps that he truly and passionately loves.

Chuck, in your first words to the Corps four years ago, you wrote, "The tour of duty for the Commandant is a brief event, gone almost before it begins." You may well feel the weight and the wisdom of those words today. But, let me say, in this briefest of moments, your record of accomplishment reminds us that our lives are measured not in years or months but in achievements. Indeed, your legacy is going to be one of succeeding where few thought it was even possible to try. Not merely by seeing the future, but by seizing it, and turning it to America’s advantage.

From the very first days of your command, each and every Marine knew the future you envisioned. And today, those Marines are serving with distinction all across the globe, as I saw just two weeks ago in Kosovo. Because you focused on "winning battles," those remarkable Marines are moving in, they’re ensuring order and they’re restoring peace "block by block." And because you focused on "making Marines," taking today’s young men and women, holding them to uncompromising standards, and transforming them through what your father calls the "unfailing alchemy," those dedicated young Americans are able to bring peace and hope to that ravaged land. Indeed, yours has been a relentless crusade to prepare every Marine for the new missions of the new Century.

But you’ve etched your mark on more than just the landscape of this historic institution. You have imprinted a sacred vision on the heart of every individual Marine. Chuck, let me say, into your able hands America passed a bold and noble institution, shaped by your remarkable predecessors, many of whom are with us here today. From your hands it has emerged even greater. Knowing, again, how passionately you love this Corps, I know there can be no higher tribute.

 

And, of course, for us to say that Chuck’s devotion to the Marines is unmatched is not quite true. As we have just heard in the encomium that was delivered to Zandi, Zandi has served the men and women of the Marine Corps with equal commitment and equal passion and an equal love. Zandi, on behalf of the entire nation, I want to thank you for your extraordinary service. [Applause.]

At the sunset of his career, the 13th Commandant, General John A. Lejeune, wrote of the Marines with whom he had served, of their "fidelity," of their "loyalty," of their "devotion to duty," and their "courage." Chuck and Zandi, let me say, on behalf of the American people, for your fidelity, for your devotion, and passionate commitment to this Corps, for your courage and loyalty in service to this nation, we are profoundly and eternally grateful. [Applause.]

To Jim and Diane Jones I say welcome. From his heroism in Vietnam, to his leadership in Northern Iraq and Bosnia, to his service throughout his tenure as my senior military assistant, Jim Jones has served this nation with devotion and distinction. In this great leader, the Corps will find a Commandant committed to "making Marines" and "winning battles."

Thirty years ago, Lieutenant General Bill Jones assumed the command of the Pacific Marines once led by Lieutenant General Victor Krulak. Of his tenure there, General Jones said, "I carried on what Brute Krulak had started." Jim, I know that you will carry-on the legacy that Chuck and all of the great commandants before him established, and you will lead this noble Corps of Marines into a new century of storied service to our nation. God bless you and good luck.