Camp Lejeune holds ceremony to welcome new commander

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (WITN) – Camp Lejeune welcomed new general commander Colonel Ralph Rizzo during a ceremony at the W.P.T Hill Field Friday.

The relinquishment of command honored the former and new commander for MCIEAST, which includes Camp Lejeune, Cherry Point and New River. Col. Rizzo has been in the service for 30 years and moves to Jacksonville for the new position.

“It is exciting to be part of supporting marines, sailors and their families of our community at this new level,” Rizzo said.

Rizzo takes the place of former General Adolfo Garcia, who was in the position since June of 2023. He shares what his priority was during his time as commander.

“I focused on the culture and climate of the command,” Garcia said. “On the marines and the civilians in making sure that they were supported and had every opportunity for success.”

Since the start of Garcia’s career, he says this was the first time he was ever stationed at Camp Lejeune and will miss the community. Garcia says this will be his families third move in four years.

“I feel a little bittersweet,” Garcia said. “It was a welcoming place and I really liked the area. They call them orders for a reason, so I am ready to go out and continue to serve.”

While serving his nation, Rizzo has been sent all over the world from the Phillipines to Okinawa. With him taking the lead, his main focus is the MCIEAST marines.

From moving from place to place, Rizzo says once he arrived at Camp Lejeune he was welcomed with open arms.

“It’s home,” Rizzo said. “We feel like its home. Depending on what direction you’re coming from I-95, you hit a point and you just go wow we’re home.”

Rizzo’s position is acting commander until his promotion as brigadier general is confirmed by the US Senate.

Garcia will move to the Marine Corps’ Office of Legislative Affairs as the next Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps.