MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. --
With the fast moving pace of supporting the warfighter and repairing equipment, it is hard to believe it has been two years since Col. Daniel Gillan, commanding officer, Maintenance Center Albany, Marine Corps Logistics Command, arrived from San Diego, Calif., in June 2007 to assume command of MCA.
Gillan will retire Friday after 32 years of service. “I could not have scripted a better tour of command than MCA. Our command has grown from approximately 1600 to nearly 2100 personnel in the last two years.
This is the direct result of the support of Marine Corps combat operations. To be a part of that support and all the decisions and accomplishments that support Marines is something I take great pride in,” Gillan said.
Gillan, the oldest of eight children, enlisted in the Marine Corps on Nov. 3, 1976, as a senior at Plantation High School in Plantation, Fla.
He recalled sitting outside during lunch with his girlfriend, now his wife of 30 years, Andrea, when a Marine recruiter pulled up and got out of his van. “I watched him get out of a big red van with the Marine Corps emblem on the side and noticed his uniform. I watched him walk by and turned to Andrea and said that is what I’m going to do. She looked at me and said, you’re going to do what – be a soldier? I said no, I’m going to be a Marine – there is a difference,” Gillan said while laughing. Gillan said he went by the recruiter’s office after school and after talking with him a few minutes, enlisted in the delayed entry program that day.
He said it was not only the uniform that made him want to join, but what he felt the Marine Corps stood for. After all, he said “I was born to be a Marine.”
“To me, being an American is embodied in being a Marine. That was my view as a 17 year old and it still is today. That view had been molded by books I had read, movies I had seen, two uncles and a father who were Marines,” Gillan added.
After graduating from high school in June 1977, Gillan left for recruit training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C.
His military occupation was an aviation ordnance specialist.
After his first deployment, he married his high school sweetheart, on May 12, 1979 and they recently celebrated their 30th anniversary. They have two children, Jared and Abby.
I wanted to wait until I was a corporal to get married so I could wear my noncommissioned officer stripe on my dress blues,” he said. “Then, after almost eight years, I was a staff sergeant completing the Marine Enlisted Commissioning Education Program at Purdue University in May 1984, on my way to becoming an officer.”
Gillan refuses to take credit for the success of MCA, insisting it is a team effort.
“In summary, our slogan says it all. ‘What you do everyday is important, a Marine’s life depends on it.’ The essence of that statement captures all we have done here,” he said.
“We have provided armor in support of the Mine Resistant Ambush Vehicles; provided survivability upgrade kits on our medium tactical vehicles; provided direct support to the light armored vehicle program and supported the amphibious assault vehicle program by providing upgrades and our special projects.”
Gillan says that MCA is a family and a world class, premier maintenance organization.
“None of what we do can be done without people. I have pride in what we have done here and what I have been able to lend is a genuine and sincere focus on the people. The leadership here has been doing that for years, which is why they are so successful,” he said.
“Having the right people in the right positions and giving them the latitude to do what needs to be done everyday is just as important, and they do it without thinking about it and they do it very well. Trent Blalock, deputy commander, MCA, is probably the best thing that has happened to the command in the last 10 years. He cares for the welfare of the Marines and civilian Marines here. We have done well together because we approach leadership from a similar stand point – serving the people we lead and work with. That epitomizes leadership. He gets it and so does the management and leadership team here,” Gillan said.
Gillan said that even though he may not know every person by name, he made it a regular habit to get out in the workspaces, walk the floors and just talk to and get to know the people who do the work there.
“That is important to building morale and family here. It matters to them and it matters to me. That is part of leadership,” he said.
When asked if there was a difference working with more civilians than in the past, Gillan’s response was, “I never truly appreciated the title, ‘civilian Marine’ until I got here and saw the dedication and loyalty of the workers. Their willingness to do whatever it takes to get the job done in support of our customer – the Marines – was priceless. The folks here really do appreciate and understand what we do here. They get it. The only difference is the active duty Marine wears a uniform. There is no difference in their sense of dedication and purpose,” he said.
Blalock has worked closely with Gillan during his entire tour here.
“Under Colonel Gillan’s leadership, MCA has experienced many great accomplishments in support of the warfighter to include many awards as a team and as individuals within MCA. However, his legacy will be the energy and love of people that will long live in all of our memory. His example has been something we can all aspire to duplicate. We will miss him,” said Blalock.
Gillan hasn’t yet announced future plans, beyond remaining in the area.
“I am not sure what the future holds, but we will stay here in Albany because we love the community and Southwest Georgia. I look forward to remaining here and watching my children graduate from high school. Like I told my daughter, I will only be changing what I wear after retiring, because once a Marine, always a Marine.”
“I walk out of here with my head held high and a sense of pride in all of our accomplishments as a command. I look forward to hearing and reading about all the great things MCA will continue to do in the future. Colonel Terry Reid will be replacing me in a few days and he is excited about coming here. My recommendation for him is to focus on two things, the people who work here and to have fun. Everything else just happens. The people will take care of you just like they have taken care of me and characters are welcome,” Gillan said.
Those working closely with him for the past two years say he will be greatly missed.
Patricia Lee, secretary, MCA, said, “Working with Colonel Gillan has been a real pleasure. He always has a pleasant attitude, a great sense of humor, and is easy-going. He is genuinely concerned about the employees and their families’ welfare and well-being. It has been a pleasure to work with him.”
Gillan cited Lee’s contribution to MCA.
“Pat Lee has been the rock to keep me well grounded and on a steady pace throughout my entire tour of duty. Her valued counsel and deft ability to keep my calendar manageable are deeply appreciated,” he said.
“I will spend the next several weeks visiting with family, golfing, fishing and enjoying my kids and my bride. After a month or so, Andrea will want me out of the house,” he said, laughing. “I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up yet, but I’m keeping my options open,” Gillan said.
Master Gunnery Sergeant Leon Lambert, ordnance fleet liaison chief, MCA, has been at MCA for the past three years and has worked with Gillan during his entire tour. Lambert departs for Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C., immediately following the change of command.
“It has been great working with Colonel Gillan. He has pushed MCA out further than just depot level maintenance. We are actually going to the Marines in theater rather than having the equipment come here for repair. The command has put us in the hands of the fleet in order to support the warfighter in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has been a great leader,” Lambert said.