Story by Crista Mary Mack on 07/03/2019FORT SHAFTER FLATS, Hawaii - Pacific Army Reserve Soldiers and guests gathered to welcome Col. John Dethlefs as he assumed command of the 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (MEB), 9th Mission Support Command, and honored outgoing commander Col. Samuel Membrere.
The Change of Command ceremony is a time honored U.S. Army tradition where the physical passing of the unit colors from the formation begins a transfer of authority. The colors represent responsibility of the 303rd MEB mission and the welfare of the Soldiers. In this case, Command Sgt. Maj. Beau Tatsumura, transferred to the outgoing commander, Membrere, on to the senior commander, 9th MSC Commanding General Brig. Gen. Douglas Anderson, who then passed the colors to Dethlefs. Dethlefs then returned the colors safely to Tatsumura and the formation, the actions together a symbolic relinquishment of authority and assumption of massive responsibility.
"The one thing a commander can hope for, that on the last day of their tenure, a unit is better off than on the first day of their tenure," Anderson said, referring to outgoing commander Membrere. "For sure, without question, no doubt about it, the 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is more ready to deploy, engage and destroy the enemies of the United States in close combat."
The 303rd MEB, is designed as a Mission Command headquarters with multi-functional staff and mission command for a tailored force that conducts support area operations, maneuver support operations, support to consequence management, and stability operations in order to assure the mobility, protection, and freedom of action of the supported force. The 303rd MEB is mission command for the 411th Engineer Battalion, the 25th Infantry Division's Main Command Post - Operational Detachment, the 829th Brigade Signal Co. and the 368th Military Police Co.
"Supporting the 25th Infantry Division in multiple exercises, Joint Region Marianas and Task Force West in exercises and during Super Typhoon Yutu relief, supported U.S. Army Pacific and the Theater Joint Force Land Component Command (TJFLCC), 130th Engineer Brigade, and Signal for multiple exercises, warfighter exercises, Exercise Keris Strike, Exercise Lightning Forge, Cobra Gold, Exercise Croix du Sud, and don't forget you had the 100 Battalion/442nd Infantry Regt. with you for most of your tenure, and then you brought the mighty 411th Engineer Battalion into the 303rd."
Membrere handled it magnificently, all while dealing with real world mission and exercises, Anderson said.
Membrere has been serving the U.S. Army since he enlisted as an infantryman in 1982. He served in several capacities, Active Army and Army Reserve, prior to commissioning from University of Hawaii Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) in 1993 and to the present day continues to give back to the UH ROTC program. He has served on many missions over his decades of service to the nation, including mobilizing and deploying in support of Operation Noble Eagle, Iraqi Freedom, and other contingency operations in and out of the Pacific, most recently deploying as the Deputy
Task Force West Commander with the 303rd supporting Typhoon Yutu disaster support to FEMA in Saipan, Tinian and Guam. Membrere's next assignment is with the Indo-Pacific Command J5 as a Strategic Planner.
"To the Membrere family, and the Soldiers of Pahu Imua, 303rd, mission accomplished, job well done," Anderson said.
Anderson then turned to introduce Dethlefs.
"He is the perfect person to replace Col. Membrere, and carry on Sam's work," Anderson said.
Dethlefs comes to the 303rd from the 102nd Training Division, the maneuver support training division of the Army Reserve.
"He has a leg up on understanding the nuances of training and formations that many of us don't. He has a very good background, ready to help him jump right in and his infantry assignments have prepared him, as has his assignments (ranging from) SOCOM (Special Operations Command) to successful battalion command... the Army made a great choice," Anderson said.
Dethlefs thanked Anderson, Membrere, and then addressed the Soldiers.
"Soldiers of the 303rd Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, I am honored to be your commander. Your great reputation precedes you across the Army, I greatly look forward to working with you," Dethlefs said. "All standing orders remain in effect, Pahu Imua."
Paju Imua is the unit motto, a Hawaiian phrase translated to English means Push Forward - Never Retreat and Always Push Forward."