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A Changing of the Guard : Marine Brass Take New Posts

October 06, 1987|GEORGE FRANK | Times Staff Writer

Maj. Gen. Donald E.P. Miller, who for the last 15 months has been commanding general of Marine air bases in Orange County, publicly took command of the Third Air Wing Monday during a flight-line ceremony at El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.

With the new assignment, Miller was promoted from brigadier to major general, the third-highest rank in the Marine Corps.

The ceremonies were marked by sizzling temperatures that were braved by hundreds of civilian onlookers and 1,500 marching Marines, who stood at attention or at parade rest for nearly 90 minutes.

Officials at the base said temperatures reached 90 degrees Monday, but conceded that another 10 degrees could be added because the "change of command" ceremony was held on a cement apron used to park and taxi aircraft.

"We couldn't have had a hotter day if we planned for it," said one Marine sitting in the bleachers.

To deal with the near-record temperatures, four first-aid stations were set up in case civilians or Marines were overcome. Base officials said no serious incidents were reported.

Miller, 52, took command of the air wing from Maj. Gen. John I. Hudson, who has been reassigned as deputy chief of staff for manpower at Marine headquarters in Washington, D.C. Hudson was nominated by President Reagan on Aug. 13 to be promoted to lieutenant general.

Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Alfred M. Gray Jr., who attended Monday's ceremony, said the Senate Armed Services Committee had approved Hudson's nomination and predicted full Senate approval shortly.

"Because of the heat, my remarks will be very short," said Miller, who before his latest promotion was the commanding general of the El Toro station and the nearby Tustin Marine Corps helicopter base.

Miller praised the people who had worked for him at the command he was leaving and said he hopes that he will be able to maintain the high standards that Hudson established at the Third Aircraft Wing.

Miller was promoted to brigadier general in 1984 and spent two years as director of public affairs for the corps.

During the Vietnam War, he won such decorations as the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and Combat Action Ribbon.

Brig. Gen. David V. Shuter, deputy commander of the Marine Amphibious Force at Camp Pendleton, was named to replace Miller as commanding general of the El Toro station.

Shuter, 50, has served in the Marine Naval Air Systems Command and is a veteran helicopter pilot, whose duties included a tour as a presidential helicopter pilot and White House command pilot.

Shuter took command of Marine Aircraft Group 16 in the Third Marine Aircraft Wing and, while serving there, was promoted to brigadier general in 1986. Last year, he was assigned as deputy commander of the amphibious force at Camp Pendleton.

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