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U.S. Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Michael J. Pritchard passes the unit colors to Maj. Gen. Russell A. Sanborn, representing the passing of command during a change of command ceremony at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, June 29, 2017. Sanborn, outgoing 1st Marine Aircraft Wing commanding general, relinquished command to Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley and will assume command at Marine Forces Europe and Africa. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Isabella Ortega)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Isabella Ortega

1st MAW bids farewell to Sanborn, welcomes Weidley

19 Jul 2017 | Lance Cpl. Isabella Ortega 1st Marine Aircraft Wing

The commanding general of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Maj. Gen. Russell A. Sanborn, relinquished command to Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, June 29, 2017.

Sanborn took command of 1st MAW July 2015 very soon after the Nepal earthquake that killed more than 8,000 people, destroyed millions of homes and devastated one of the world's poorest countries. As a result, assets from III Marine Expeditionary Force, including from 1st MAW, were called in to help. Undeterred by the challenges of the recently completed disaster relief effort, Sanborn strived to build capacity and capability in 1st MAW and worked to be ready to carry out a "fight tonight" plan, within 72 hours, if necessary.

“It just gives you excitement to know that we are war fighters and that we are truly ready to fight tonight and to support this region in the capacity that we do,” said Sanborn.

As the Aviation Combat Element of III Marine Expeditionary Force, Sanborn and his team were responsible for providing combat ready forces capable of conducting aviation operations across naval and expeditionary environments.

Sanborn oversaw the Marines and Sailors of 1st MAW as they reached numerous milestones in the aviation world. They broke the record for the first MV-22 Osprey trans-Pacific flight, flying over 5 thousand miles from Hawaii to Darwin, Australia. The F-35B Lightning II platform was also added to 1st MAW’s capabilities, providing the region with better defense and security through the higher capabilities of the F-35B’s technology. 1st MAW also welcomed the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 3 “Phantoms” into Hawaii and two tiltrotor squadrons to Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa Japan.

Sanborn, who will move on to take command of Marine Forces Europe and Africa, praised the Marines and Sailors in 1st MAW before taking his leave.

"The Marines here have a ‘won’t take no for an answer’ attitude that I love,” said Sanborn. “I’ve stayed in the Marine Corps for 30 years because I love being around Marines like these. It's been a joy, it’s been an honor and a privilege to be the commanding general of 1st MAW.”

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