Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall bid farewell April 8 to deputy commander Lt. Col. John John Orille, who retired following a 24-year career in the Marine Corps during a ceremony on the Henderson Hall portion of the joint base.
The artillery officer served as the joint base’s deputy commander since September 2013.
“Throughout his career, John was assigned to many different units,” said the ceremony’s presiding officer, Marine Maj. Gen. Frederick M. Padilla, president of National Defense University. “All those units were successful. They were more successful because he was in that unit.”
Orille, a native of Jersey City, N.J., graduated from Norwich University, the Military College of Vermont. In 1992, Orille was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines. During his time in the Corps, he served in support of Operation Raven; with several Marine Air Ground Task Forces; several billets at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va.; at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, N.C.; and several deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. It was during one of those deployments to Iraq that Orille served under Padilla as a battery commander.
“In combat or at home, John has served his country extremely well,” said Padilla. “The nation owes you a debt of gratitude it can never repay. In the Naval tradition, I wish you fair winds and following seas.”
Since it became a joint base in 2009, JBM-HH’s command structure has included a Marine Corps lieutenant colonel as its deputy commander. Orille is the third Marine to serve as such.
During the ceremony, Orille was presented the Legion of Merit medal and his wife Elizabeth was presented with a certificate of appreciation as the couple’s sons, Jack and Connor, looked on with other family members and dozens of friends.
“I have a lot to be thankful for and I want to recognize every one of you, because this ceremony is just as much about each and every one of you as it is about me,” Orille said. “As you would expect, I’m a flood of emotion right now.”
Orille said you don’t simply join the Corps, you become Marines – a band of brothers, a family.
“It has been an incredible honor to serve side by side with the selfless men and women like you who care about the Corps and country more than themselves,” he said.
Orille’s brother, retired Navy Petty Officer Jim Orille, presented him with a target rifle that had been awarded him by the Secretary of the Navy.
A flag presented to Orille during the ceremony had special meaning for him and his entire family. It was presented last year during the funeral service for his father, retired Navy Petty Officer Perry Orille, who died in January 2015. Since that time, the flag was flown over the USS Barry, one of the last ships that Orille’s father served aboard during his 20-year Navy career. The flag was also flown over the Marine Corps War Memorial; Headquarters and Service Battalion, Headquarters Marine Corps, Henderson Hall; and Whipple Field on the Fort Myer portion of the joint base; the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery; and the Fort McNair Parade Field on the Fort McNair portion of the joint base.
“This is a day that I knew would always happen, but somehow hoped would never come,” concluded Orille.
Marine Corps Lt. Col. Eric W. Kelly will succeed Orille as JBM-HH deputy commander later this year.
Pentagram Staff Writer Julia LeDoux can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.