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The Chemical Biological Incident Response Force said goodbye to its top enlisted leader and welcomed a new boss during an April 4 relief and appointment ceremony at Naval Support Facility Indian Head. The Marines and Sailors of CBIRF honored Sgt. Maj. Darrell Stillings, who led CBIRF since 2011 and retired after 30 years of honorable service to the nation. Col. Stephen Redifer, commanding officer of CBIRF, presided over Stillings’ relief and the appointment of Sgt. Maj. Brian Taylor, who served as a company first sergeant with CBIRF during a tour at Indian Head from 2005 to 2008.

Stillings received the Legion of Merit for his “outstanding service” to CBIRF and the Marine Corps, as well as letters and certificates from military leaders and President Barack Obama. Stillings’ wife, Shauna, also received a certificate of appreciation for her dedication and sacrifice during her husband’s career.

“Thank you so much for honoring us with your presence here today on what is a very, very important part of Sergeant Major Stillings’ life, as well as his life with Shauna, as they begin the next phase of their lives,” Redifer told attendees.

Stillings’ children, mother and mother-in-law received special praise from Redifer. “I can’t thank you enough for sharing Darrell with us for the last 30 years.”

Redifer also extended a greeting to Taylor and his family. “Thank you so much for sharing this day,” he said.

Redifer summed up the far-reaching impact of Stillings’ many years of loyal service. “You stood on the foot prints at Parris Island as a teenager and you grew into manhood in the United States Marine Corps,” he said. “During that time, Sergeant Major Stillings has done things, been places and led Marines. Throughout it all, he has taught, he has mentored, he has learned and he has led this Marine Corps family. And he has never once forgotten that this is a Marine Corps family. He treats these Marines, he treats me, he has treated thousands of Marines as if they are his children, his brothers, his sisters. He has brought them up right. He let them know when they’ve done wrong and rewarded them when they’ve done well, and [he has] done so magnificently.”

Stillings spent his speaking time thanking members of CBIRF, as well as those who supported and mentored him throughout his career. “You couldn’t ask for a better unit to spend your last 36 months in the Marine Corps,” he said. “Marines, Sailors, civilians and support staff of CBIRF: it’s been a great journey here. I leave here with a little bit of bittersweet feelings because it’s a great place to work. I appreciate everything [you] have done for me while I’ve been here.”

CBIRF’s unique mission makes the experiences of those in the command unique, said Stillings. “Nobody comes to CBIRF as expert,” he said, hiding a slight grin. “Everybody comes through the door and we’re all a loss.”

After the laughter from the crowd died down, Stilling’s demeanor turned serious. “About a month later, we’re trained and if something happens, I guarantee you these Marines and Sailors and civilians will answer the nation’s call.”

Stillings offered words of thanks to his former commanding officers and encouragement to his successor. “Brian, you’ve got a great unit and you’re going to do great things here. Good luck to you. I wish you the best.”

He closed with a goodbye to CBIRF and thanks for his family. “Marines, ooh rah. Semper Fi,” he said. “The only way I’m here today and do the things I do every day [is my family]. Thank you, I love you.”