MCB HAWAII --
Lt. Gen. Keith J. Stalder relinquished command of U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Pacific, to Lt. Gen. Duane D. Thiessen Sept. 2 during a change of command ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Kaneohe Bay. Stalder has been the MarForPac commander since August 2008.
Stalder was born in Venezuela and raised in Alaska. He earned his Master’s degree in Aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1984.
Stalder served as the commanding general for Training and Education Command, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing and1st Marine Expeditionary Brigade while serving in Iraq.
During Operation Iraqi Freedom I, he served as deputy commanding general for I Marine Expeditionary Force.
He also served as assistant wing commander for 3rd MAW.
While stationed in Stuttgart, Germany, he served as the military-to-military contact program for Central, Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union Operations Division chief for Headquarters, European Command, Stuttgart, Germany.
He commanded Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 531 and Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 and was the deputy director for Plans and Policy, United States Central Command, during Operation Enduring Freedom.
He has served in Marine Fighter Attack Squadrons 333, 235, 115, Strike Fighter Squadron 125 and Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1.
His personal decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal with gold star, Defense Superior Service Medal with an oak leaf cluster, the Legion of Merit, and Air Medal. He is a graduate of the Marine Corps Command Staff and College, and the NATO Defense College in Rome, Italy.
During the ceremony, Stalder was presented the Order of National Security Merit Gukseon Medal by Republic of Korea Marine Corps Brigadier General Choi Seung Gil, on behalf of Republic of Korea President Lee Myung-Bak, for his support of the Korean people.
Gen. James T. Conway, Commandant of the Marine Corps, had this to say about Stalder and his service to the Corps.
“This man is brilliant,” Conway said. “He could handle 50 things at the same time or drill down on an issue like a Texas oil driller. The United States Marine Corps is better today because a young man named Keith Jacob Stalder decided to wear our uniform.”
Stalder retired at the ceremony, after more than 37 years of service.
Before leaving the Corps, Stalder had a piece of advice for his Marines.
“Do the right thing, in the right way, for the right reasons,” Stalder said. “Never forget, you are the good people I’m talking about, and you are changing the world.”
Thiessen earned his commission in May 1974 after he graduated from Pittsburg State University. An aviator by trade, Thiessen was first stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., for Harrier AV-8 training after he completed flight school.
As a first lieutenant, Thiessen served as an Operational Maintenance officer with Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 542. During his tour he deployed to Okinawa, Japan, and the Mediterranean.
July 1982, Capt. Thiessen transferred to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1, MCAS Yuma, Ariz., where he served as an AV-8 tactics instructor.
December 1985, Maj. Thiessen transferred back to Cherry Point where served as the Operations officer for VMA-231, where he deployed to Mediterranean Sea with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit.
In June 1991, Lt. Col. Thiessen served as commander for Marine Attack Training Squadron 203.
He transferred to the National War College in Washington D.C. where he served as the Marine Requirements Officer for the Joint Strike Fighter Program until 1999 when Col. Thiessen transferred to Yuma as the Marine Aircraft Group 13 commanding officer.
He served in the Headquarters Marine Corps Plans and Policy Branch until July 2000 when he assumed responsibilities as the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for Expeditionary Force Programs.
Following his promotion to brigadier general in October 2001, he became deputy director of Operations, National Military Command Center until May 2004 when assumed his duties as the deputy Naval inspector general for Marine Corps matters as well and inspector general of the Marine Corps.
He then returned to Okinawa where he served as commanding general for the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from June 2004 until June 2005. He then transferred to Korea as the U.S. Marine Forces Korea commander and assistant chief of staff, United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command.
Prior to his new assignment, Thiessen served as the Deputy Commandant of the Marine Corps for Programs and Resources in May 9, 2008 as a major general.
“I’m looking forward to working at MarForPac,” Thiessen said. “It has the largest population (of the Marine Corps’ area of operations), some of our greatest allies and some of our most formidable competitors. To the Marines, sailors, families and civilian Marines, it’s an honor and a privilege and I look forward to serving with you.”