MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
The Marine Corps’ East Coast aviation element underwent a change in leadership May 22, as Maj. Gen. Glenn M. Walters, recently selected for his third star, handed over command to Brig. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund during a ceremony on the flight line at Cherry Point.
Since Walters took command in May of 2012, 2nd MAW (Fwd.) has activated and deployed to once again take on the role as the lead aviation combat element for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in southwestern Afghanistan. Walters was once at the helm of that aviation combat element.
“Now I’m preparing Marines for combat,” Walters said during an interview in January roughly halfway through his time as commanding general here. “It’s the continuum of who we are as Marines – answering the call to do our nation’s defense wherever we’re called.”
Once confirmed by the Senate, Walters will move on to duties as the Deputy Commandant for Programs and Resources at Headquarters Marine Corps. He said that his greatest challenge was getting the roughly 16,000 Marines who make up 2nd MAW on the same page.
“The biggest challenge to any large organization is to get everybody to understand what the standards are and what we’re doing,” said Walters.
That challenge now lies with Hedelund.
Hedelund comes to 2nd MAW from Marine and Family Programs in Quantico, Va., where he has served as its director since 2011.
This is not Hedelund’s, a CH-46E Sea Knight pilot by trade, first time serving with 2nd MAW.
“I grew up in 2nd MAW. I did a tour with (Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264) in the '80s, a tour with HMM-365 in the '90s, and I was (commanding officer) of HMM-162 from 2001-2003,” said Hedelund. “2nd MAW is my home in many ways. We are very excited about being back and rejoining the 2nd MAW family.”
Hedelund recently returned from a visit with the forward-deployed 2nd MAW team. He went overseas to get a look at the deployed Marines from the wing he now commands.
“Brig. Gen. (Gary L.) Thomas, (commanding general of 2nd MAW (Fwd.)) is a superb leader and a personal friend,” said Hedelund. “The MAW forward couldn’t be in better hands. Much like here, I am very impressed with 2nd MAW (Fwd.)’s work over there.”
Hedelund also spoke highly of Walters, saying he has done a fabulous job with the wing.
“My first impression is there is very little that needs changing right away,” said Hedelund. “I’m still learning about the current and future commitments facing 2nd MAW. I think as the summer progresses, I will review our priorities, but as far as big sweeping changes, I really don’t see many. I hope that what becomes evident is that I’m about taking care of Marines, Sailors and their families – keeping faith, as the commandant says.”
Walters said that leaving is a bittersweet event. “It’s sweet because of the Marines I have worked with. 2nd MAW has made me proud to be a member of this organization. A good friend and great Marine, Brig. Gen. Hedelund is taking my place. 2nd MAW will soar under his leadership.”