News: Thundering Third welcomes new commander
Story by Cpl. Zachary Nola
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. - Lt. Col. Benjamin T. Watson, relinquished command of 3rd Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment, to Lt. Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, during a change of command ceremony at Camp Pendleton, Calif., Feb. 4.
Watson, and the rest of the “Thundering Third,” returned in November from a seven-month deployment to Garmsir District, Helmand province, Afghanistan. The unit conducted counterinsurgency operations in support of Afghan national security forces and the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan from April-November 2010.
Before the unit’s deployment to Afghanistan, Watson led the battalion into the Western Pacific as a battalion landing team element for the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.
Fridriksson joined the 1st Marine Division after receiving his commission and served with 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.
He returned to 1st Marine Division in 2009, and served as the Headquarters Battalion executive officer and assistant operations officer for Regimental Combat Team 1.
After the customary sequence of events which included the marching on of the colors, national anthem and publication of orders, both men took time to address those in attendance.
Watson spoke first and was quick to thank the Marines and sailors of the battalion.
“It’s been an incredible honor, and if I could sum it up in one word, it would be humbling; serving with some of America’s finest young men,” said Watson, from Syracuse, N.Y. “It’s certainly been the most humbling experience of my 20 years. My men are my heroes.”
Fridriksson, who began his Marine Corps career as an enlisted Marine with 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, also recognized the Marines and sailors of the battalion during his address.
“To stand here with these men of the battalion is the absolute highlight of my career,” said Fridriksson, from Alaska.
Fridriksson is a graduate of several U.S. Army courses and the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He is married with two children.