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Marine Leads Unit Once Commanded by His Father

November 10, 1987|ANTHONY PERRY | Times Staff Writer

Generally, the Marine Corps is not a family business.

If the Corps meant for you to have a family, the adage goes, it would have issued you one. Well, sometimes even adages fade away, like Monday on the Camp Margarita parade ground at Camp Pendleton.

For the first time in Marine history, a son will have the same command his father once held. Col. Richard B. Rothwell assumed command of the 5th Marine Regiment, the most-decorated regiment in Marine history.

"You can't believe how happy I am to be here," said Rothwell, 47, a Naval Academy graduate. "Every Marine hopes for a command, and any command would have been thrilling to have, but this just adds a great deal more to the occasion."

Rothwell's father, Richard Rothwell, was commanding officer of the "Fighting 5th" from September, 1956, to June, 1957. He was also a battalion commander during the World War II battles at Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima.

"I think the commanding officers today have to deal with many more problems than we ever did," said the elder Rothwell, 75, who retired as a colonel in 1961 and lives in San Diego. "You just have to be smarter to survive. I marvel at these young commanders and how well they handle themselves."

Will the father be giving advice to the son? It depends on who you ask.

"I'm always asking him for advice," the younger Rothwell said. "He's a very wise man, and a large reason why I'm here today is the advice I've had from him over the years."

'Going to Be a Good C.O.'

"I don't need to give him any advice," his father said. "He knows a great deal more than I ever knew, and he's going to be a good C.O."

Rothwell took over command of the 4,000-man regiment from Col. Thomas V. Draude, who has been reassigned to Marine Corps headquarters.

"The term Fighting 5th Marines is redundant," Draude said in his farewell to the troops. "If you're in the 5th Marines, you're either fighting or preparing to fight all the time."

Also attending the change of command ceremony was the new commander's son, William "Bo" Rothwell, 19, a Naval ROTC student at the University of San Diego, headed for a career in the Marines.

"I'm prepared for it," he said. "I grew up in the Marine Corps so I know how to handle myself."

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