2nd MAW (Fwd) assistant commander to get first star

21 Mar 2013 | Lance Cpl. S. T. Stewart

Col. Kevin Iiams is forward deployed to Afghanistan one of the most dynamic, rapidly changing environments in the world.

Soon, he will adapt to another big change as he accepts the rank and responsibility of brigadier general.

As the assistant wing commander, Iiams provides Brig. Gen. Gary L. Tomas, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), a means to organize, energize and enable staff and subordinate commands in their missions as the U.S. continues to transition toward full Afghan control in the region.

Iiams said despite his desire to see the deployment through to the end, he must make way for other capable, deserving Marines to have their moment in the sun.

When Iiams is promoted, Col. Scott S. Jensen, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 29, will assume responsibility under Thomas.

“There will be some change for me, but no impact for the role of assistant wing commander,” said Iiams in a recent email. “Although I feel I am in my element with the Marines here in combat and do not want to leave, I was informed by the Commandant (of the Marine Corps) during his visit with the Marines here last month, that my new job will be waiting for me at the Pentagon.”

The colonel did not elaborate on the specifics of what his new role will entail, but he said he is scheduled to return to the states sooner than anticipated.

“It looks like I will have to depart Afghanistan much earlier than planned and leave Cherry Point early this summer,” he said. “While I would like to think the command needs me here, much like my selection to brigadier general, there are always Marines just as capable and just as deserving who are ready to step forward.”

Iiams’ inspiration throughout his Marine Corps career has been the junior Marines.

“From my father who was a corporal in the reserves, to Marines who are out here in Afghanistan with me today, it has always been these junior Marines and their selfless service, determined work ethic and indomitable fighting spirit that are the most inspiring for me,” said Iiams. “Being around them, watching them and leading them gives me the motivation to continue to serve.  I am humbled by their tireless daily efforts and very thankful that my selection to brigadier general will now give me the opportunity to continue to serve them as dutifully as they serve our nation.”

According to Iiams, the Marines currently serving the nation dutifully in Afghanistan under 2nd MAW (Fwd.) are settled into their combat battle rhythms.

“Chow and billeting are above standard, and morale is high,” he said. “The Marines are busy ensuring that the enemy understands that we are a force to be reckoned with and that our Afghan counterparts know we are here to support and assist their efforts as they step further forward into their security and governance roles.”

He finds it meaningful and rewarding to look back across the years and know that he has been a part of something bigger than himself. “I would do it all again in a heartbeat,” said Iiams.

No matter what changes are in store, no matter where the Corps takes him, Iiams will always have love for the Corps and attributes his decision to make a career in the Marine Corps to the Marines he has served with.

“My faith and trust in the Corps leadership has never been predicated on whether I was selected for any rank, billet or opportunity,” said Iiams. “Rather, my trust in the leadership has always been reaffirmed by all the great Marines from which we have to choose.  Due to the professional caliber of those who were selected on this board with me, those who have been selected in the past, and the great many who were not selected but are every bit as capable, I know that I have an ultimate responsibility to all of them to live up to this new rank.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point