Top officer fired at Marine infantry battalion in California

by Vern Evans

The commander of an infantry battalion in California was relieved of his command on Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Christopher O’Melia was fired from his role as commander of 1st Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Watson, the commanding general of 1st Marine Division, Marine spokesman Lt. Col. Lucas Burke said in a statement to Marine Corps Times on Monday.

Watson relieved O’Melia of his duties “due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to continue to serve in that position,” Burke said, without providing more specifics.

“There is no more sacred position in this Division than that of a Commanding Officer,” Watson said in the statement. “Our Marines and Sailors deserve the absolute best leadership the Marine Corps can offer, and I am committed to providing them the leadership they deserve.”

Lt. Col. Jonathan Wagner, a prior-enlisted Marine who previously was the operations officer for the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and recently deployed with Marine Rotational Force–Southeast Asia, is now the commander of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.

In 2020, the commander of the same infantry battalion, Lt. Col. Michael Regner, was relieved of his command following an amphibious assault vehicle accident that killed eight Marines and a Navy corpsman in the unit.

O’Melia assumed command of the Camp Pendleton, California–based infantry unit in June 2023, according to photos on the Defense Visual Information Distribution Service. Infantry battalions consist of more than 800 Marines each.

Marine Corps Times attempted to reach O’Melia by email and did not receive a response by time of publication.

O’Melia’s official biography is no longer on the website of 1st Battalion, 4th Marines.

As a major, O’Melia commanded Recruiting Station Los Angeles from at least 2019 to 2021 and was recognized with a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his work there.

Irene Loewenson is a staff reporter for Marine Corps Times. She joined Military Times as an editorial fellow in August 2022. She is a graduate of Williams College, where she was the editor-in-chief of the student newspaper.

Read the full article here

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