Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Calif. (July 25, 2014) --
A ship is as only as strong as the wind in its sails and for units across the Marine Corps, large and small, a commanding officers’ direction is that wind.
In a unique twist on the assumption of command, Lt. Col. Joseph B. Lagoski, formerly the executive officer of the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), assumed responsibilities of commanding officer from Col. Christopher Taylor, June 25, 2014, aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
According to the Marines in his charge, Lagoski is certain to push forward with strong leadership until Col. Henderson, currently deployed to Regional Command Southwest with the I Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), arrives to assume command early in 2015.
“The executive officer rising to fill the commanding officer’s position is a rising trend the MEU’s have been practicing for the most recent command rotations,” said Sgt. Maj. William S. Slade, MEU sergeant major and senior enlisted advisor to the commanding officer of the 13th MEU. “It establishes continuity between one rotation and another, but is not how things are normally done in a traditional command.”
Slade, a Niles, Ohio, native stressed how important it is to maintain strong command climate between rotations. Without it, the difference in direction for the staff can be as striking as night and day.
“The commanding officer of a unit is everything,” said Maj. Albert Goldberg, intelligence officer for the 13th MEU and a key element of the MEU staff. “He focuses our efforts and sets the standard across the board.”
Goldberg, a Franklin Lakes, N.J. native, is no stranger to the impact a commander can have on the MEU. He served with Col. Taylor on their most recent deployment in the western Pacific Ocean, WESTPAC 13-2.
“You do not want to disappoint a good commander, he is responsible and the buck stops with him,” Goldberg said. “So, like Col. Taylor before him, Lt. Col. Lagoski will certainly prioritize what is important so that we can work off his guidance and continue to be successful as a unit.”
Though his time as the commanding officer is finite, Lagoski has no qualms setting the tone for its duration up front. The Collierville, Tenn., native ranks taking care of the Marines as his number one priority.
“Taking care of Marines does not mean taking it easy on them,” Lagoski said. “First and foremost, I am not protecting a Marine’s life if I don’t have him trained physically and mentally for any mission on the horizon. If I can’t do that, then I’ve failed him right off of the bat,” he exclaimed.
As the ultimate decision maker within the unit, it is Lagoski’s duty to ensure all Marines in his charge leave as a better, more complete product than when they arrived. Whether Marines move on to become civilian Marines, or to a new post, they will be stronger.
“I am humbled to be the commander of this unit, and when the time comes to turn over command again, I will give up a unit of which any commander could be proud.”