31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Change of Command

U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cesar Ronaldo Alarcon
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Cesar Ronaldo Alarcon

31st Marine Expeditionary Unit Change of Command

by Capt. Pawel Puczko
31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

Col. Michael Nakonieczny, relinquished command of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit to Col. Matthew Danner, Jun. 02, during a change of command ceremony held on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan. Nakonieczny, a career Light Armored Reconnaissance Officer is from Buena Park, California, and attended the University of California at Davis.

Over Nakonieczny’s two years in command of the 31st MEU, the unit completed four full unit-deployment cycles including training, exercises, and real-world operations throughout the Indo-Pacific region. The 31st MEU operated, continuously throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, with combined forces throughout Japan, the Republic of the Philippines, Australia, and other allied nations with the Navy’s Amphibious Squadron 11 aboard ships of the USS New Orleans (LPD 18), USS Green Bay (LPD-20), USS Germantown (LSD 42), USS Ashland (LSD-48) and USS America (LHA 6) Amphibious Ready Groups. Additionally, the 31st MEU trained alongside the 11th MEU and Navy Carrier Strike Group 3, demonstrating the full capability of the Naval Expeditionary Force.

During the ceremony, Nakonieczny expressed appreciation to all the Marines that he has worked with while commanding the 31st MEU. He reflected on the shared resiliency throughout the pandemic, and the success of each deployment, training and mission due to the dedication of every Marine and sailor within the unit.

"These past two years were an iron clad demonstration of interoperability, not just between these Marines and our Navy counterparts, but also with the joint force, and our partners and allies,” said Nakonieczny. “Together we worked through every obstacle as we remained ready to respond to any crisis, to be the first on the scene, and if needed, be the first to fight. It was awe inspiring to see this MEU in action as we demonstrated to our Corps, our allies, and potential adversaries that the 31st MEU is the most ready, partnered, and lethal crisis response force in INDOPACOM."

At the conclusion of the change of command, Danner expressed his gratitude to Nakonieczny and his enthusiasm to the Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU.

“For the Marines and sailors of the 31st MEU, what an honor and a privilege it is for me to serve with you,” said Danner, a Yuma, Arizona native. “I have been overwhelmed the last few weeks reading endless updates on the high caliber of performance from Marines throughout the MEU and I am excited to finally see it for myself. We are in a very unique time in history, coming out of a global pandemic, increased competition in our area of responsibility, and our duty to stand alongside our allies to maintain freedom in the Indo-Pacific. We are the Marine Corps' only continuously forward-deployed MEU, I am proud to be here and join the best team of Marines in our force, Semper Fidelis.”

Photo Caption:
U.S. Marine Corps Col. Michael Nakonieczny (left), and Col. Matthew Danner (right), commanding officer of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), pose for a photo after a change of command ceremony at Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan, Jun. 2, 2022. Nakonieczny relinquishes authority as commanding officer of the 31st MEU to Danner. The 31st MEU, the Marine Corps’ only continuously forward-deployed MEU, provides a flexible and lethal force ready to perform a wide range of military operations as the premiere crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific region.

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