MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga -- Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany underwent a change in leadership Friday when Col. Joseph R. Wingard stepped down as the base commander and relinquished his duties to Col. John P. Lopez.
Marines, civilian workers, friends and family all gathered here during the Change of Command ceremony to welcome Col. Lopez and bid farewell to Col. Wingard, who has served as the base commander since July 2002.
Throughout his 27 years of dedicated service, Col. Wingard has served at various commands. He and his family now look forward to traveling to Parris Island, S.C., where he will be in charge of logistics.
Col. Wingard was born in Columbia, S.C. in 1955. In September 1974, he embarked upon a career in the military after completing the Platoon Leaders Class program. He was later commissioned in June 1977 after graduating from Clemson University.
After completion of The Basic School and the Ground Supply Officers Course, he served as the base services officer for Marine Air Base Squadron 15, Marine Aircraft Group 15 in Iwakuni, Japan.
After his first overseas tour, Col. Wingard returned to the United States and subsequently spent eight years serving in assignments at Headquarters, Fleet Marine Forces, Atlantic in Norfolk, Va., 6th Marine Amphibious Brigade and 2nd Marine Division in Camp Lejeune, N.C., before being sent back to Japan in 1988. This time, however, he traveled to Okinawa where he served as the commanding officer of Supply Company, 3rd Supply Battalion, 3rd Force Service Support Group.
In August 1989, Col. Wingard was assigned as an intern with the Office of the Secretary of Defense in Washington, D.C. In 1994, he reported to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., where he served as the Recruit Training Regiment S-4 officer and the assistant chief of staff, Supply and Services.
In 1998, Col. Wingard attended the Naval War College in Newport, R.I. Upon his graduation in June 1999, he was assigned to Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium. There, he worked in the Policy Branch, Policy and Requirements Division.
When he was promoted to his present rank, he assumed duties as the section chief of SHAPE Civil Military Cooperation/JOC J9.
Col. Wingard reported to MCLB in July 2001, beginning his tour as the director of Supply Chain Management Center. A year later, he assumed the duties of commanding officer.
As Col. Wingard relinquished his command of MCLB, he noted that he was honored to serve as the base commander and enjoyed the close relationship shared by the base and local community.
"This base has been great for a number of different 'where else's,'" said Col. Wingard in his closing remarks. "Where else does a Marine base work so closely with the community? Where else does the community know the names of the base leaders?"
With the passing of the Colors, which symbolized the official change of command, Col. Lopez assumed all duties of the commanding officer.
A New York City native, Col. Lopez graduated the State University of Albany with a Bachelor of Arts degree in May 1980. He was later commissioned in October of that same year.
Upon completing The Basic School, he attended the Basic Engineer Officers Course at Camp Lejeune, N.C. He was later assigned to Wing Engineer Support Squadron 37, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing in El Toro, Calif.
In 1983, he reported to III Marine Amphibious Force Liaison Unit 2 at Subic Bay, Philippines. Upon finishing this tour, he was selected to attend the Career Level School.
In 1985, Col. Lopez served as a platoon commander at Officer Candidate School prior to attending Amphibious Warfare School in August 1985. He was then assigned as the Inspector-Instructor for Company A, 4th Combat Engineer Battalion in Charleston, W.Va.
In 1990, he deployed to Southwest Asia for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm where he served with 7th Engineer Support Battalion. Upon being promoted to the rank of major, he then transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md., and served as a Spanish language instructor after he returned from his deployment with Combat Service Support Detachment 10, Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force Guadalcanal.
In 1995, Col. Lopez was reassigned to the U.S. Military Group (USMILGP) Colombia as the U.S. Marine Corps representative to the Colombian Marine Corps and the Deputy U.S. Naval Mission, USMILGP Colombia.
In January 2002, Col. Lopez assumed command of MEU Service Support Group 22 and deployed on LF6F 2-02 during February 2002. Upon his return, he immediately reported for duty with the 2nd Marine Division staff and deployed to the Horn of Africa in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He was assigned as the executive officer for the Marine Central Command Djibouti Transition Staff and as the officer in charge of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa Forward Command Element.
When he returned, Col. Lopez was promoted to his present rank and was assigned to Marine Corps Logistics Command for duty as the director of Studies and Analysis.
"I have had the chance to meet and talk to some Marines since I have been here. But I am now looking forward to meeting all of you as your new CO (commanding officer)," Col. Lopez said.
As the ceremony came to a close with the Marines marching in the Pass in Review and the Albany Marine Band playing the Marines' Hymn, both commanders took the opportunity to give thanks to all those who participated in the ceremony.