07.30.2015 -- MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, Japan - Brigadier Gen. Russell A. Sanborn assumed command of 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force from Maj. Gen. Steven R. Rudder at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, July 30, 2015.
Sanborn commissioned into the Marine Corps in May 1986 after graduating from the University of Florida. His previous assignment was director of Marine and Family Programs in Quantico, Virginia.
“I’m very excited to be the commanding general of 1st MAW,” said Sanborn. “It’s giving me the opportunity to serve my Marines, our sailors and their families. That’s what I’m here to do is serve them and make 1st MAW better tomorrow then they were today.”
For the Marines of 1st MAW, there won’t be radical changes, according to Sanborn.
“This MAW is a well-run organization,” said Sanborn. “Maj. Gen. Rudder set this organization on a good course, so I don’t plan on making any drastic changes. Like all good organizations we should ask ‘Why do we do it this way? Is there a better way to do this, and is there a more efficient way to do this?’ and we will continue to tweak those things.”
Rudder commanded 1st MAW since July 9, 2013. He will become the director of J5 Strategic Planning and Policy Directorate, Pacific Command in Hawaii.
During the two years of serving as the commanding general of 1st MAW, Rudder led Marines during humanitarian assistance/disaster relief efforts in Nepal and in the Philippines. He also oversaw the movement of the KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft from Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 152 from Okinawa to MCAS Iwakuni and the first arrival of MV-22B Osprey tiltrotor aircraft in Okinawa.
“The Osprey is an aircraft that gives the air wing the reach to conduct operations in areas where we could not access just using normal helicopters,” said Rudder.
According to Rudder, he believes it will be an easy transition between himself and Sanborn.
“I think what you have is a tremendous general officer that has vast knowledge of everything Marine aviation,” said Rudder. “He and the rest of the Marine air group commanders will carry on and conduct operations in a manner that we all expect Marine aviation to conduct – both humanitarian and flight operations in the future.”
Rudder said, as he departs commanding, he wants to leave a message for the Marines he led.
“First of all, I would like to thank the Marines for being forward deployed and conducting themselves as true U.S. ambassadors throughout the Pacific,” said Rudder. “I want to give a special thanks to those families that picked up their dogs, their cats, their kids and came out here and live forward. From my wife Holly and me, the warmth we get from Okinawa and the people of Okinawa will never be forgotten – something we will never forget, and Okinawa will always have a warm place in our hearts.”