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U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Benjamin Wagner, the then-battalion commander for 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, speaks to World War II veterans at the Iwo Jima Memorial on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Dec. 6, 2021. Wagner was relieved from command of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Hawaii on March 31, 2022, due to loss of trust in his leadership ability.

U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Benjamin Wagner, the then-battalion commander for 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, speaks to World War II veterans at the Iwo Jima Memorial on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Dec. 6, 2021. Wagner was relieved from command of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment in Hawaii on March 31, 2022, due to loss of trust in his leadership ability. (Patrick King/U.S. Marine Corps)

The commander and command sergeant major of a Hawaii-based Marine Corps battalion were relieved last week due to a loss of confidence in their leadership, the service said Wednesday.

Lt. Col. Benjamin Wagner, commander of 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, was fired on March 31, along with the battalion’s top enlisted leader, Sgt. Maj. Jayson Clifton, a Marine Corps spokesman, Maj. Kurt Stahl, said in an email to Stars and Stripes on Wednesday.

Maj. Gen. Jay Bargeron, commander of 3rd Marine Division, relieved the pair “due to a loss of trust and confidence in their abilities to continue leading in their assigned duties,” Stahl said.

The move followed an inspector general’s investigation that was prompted by anonymous complaints, said Stahl, who provided no further details on the nature of that investigation.

Wagner, who took command of the battalion last summer, has been reassigned to Marine Corps Forces Pacific headquarters at Camp H.M. Smith in Honolulu, Stahl said. Clifton has not yet been reassigned.

Lt. Col. Felix Guerra is now serving as battalion commander, Stahl said.

Guerra had been serving since August as future operations officer at 3rd Marine Regiment, which transitioned into 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment on March 3, according to his official biography.

Sgt. Maj. Timothy Eldredge has replaced Clifton as the battalion’s sergeant major, Stahl said.

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Wyatt Olson is based in the Honolulu bureau, where he has reported on military and security issues in the Indo-Pacific since 2014. He was Stars and Stripes’ roving Pacific reporter from 2011-2013 while based in Tokyo. He was a freelance writer and journalism teacher in China from 2006-2009.
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