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VMI Alumni Assume, Change Commands

soldier saluting

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David J. Furness ’87 relinquished command of the 2nd Marine Division to Maj. Gen. Francis L. Donovan at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 6, 2020. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Patrick King.


Furness ’87 Changes Command of 2nd Marine Division

The 2nd Marine Division conducted a change of command ceremony outside of the 2nd MARDIV headquarters at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Aug. 6, 2020. Maj. Gen. David J. Furness ’87, following two years as commander of the 16,000-strong 2nd MARDIV, relinquished command to Maj. Gen. Francis L. Donovan.

“I am truly privileged to have had the opportunity to have commanded this great division; it has been the pinnacle of my career,” said Furness. “I was fortunate enough to have stepped into an exceptionally well-run organization back then, so any refinements were really on the margins. Nonetheless, we worked exceptionally hard on issues like leadership development, war-fighting readiness and modernization. As I relinquish command to General Donovan, my hope is that he will find an organization that is all the more fit and focused for it. General Donovan has my full confidence as he prepares to lead the Marines and sailors of this exemplary organization. The Follow-Me division is in great hands.”

Donovan previously served as commanding general of Naval Amphibious Force, Task Force-51/5th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and, most recently, Donovan served as an assistant commanding general for Joint Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

“I am honored to take command of this storied division,” Donovan said. “There is no greater privilege than serving Marines and sailors of any organization, and I could not be more humbled than to be able to do that here at 2nd Marine Division. I am looking forward to this awesome responsibility, to the challenges that lie ahead and to what the future has in store for this outstanding division.”

The 2nd MARDIV is a multi-role expeditionary ground combat force. The division is employed as the ground combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force. It may also provide task-organized forces for assault operations, and such other operations as may be directed. The 2nd MARDIV’s past operations include: The Global War on Terrorism; Operation Desert Storm; peacekeeping operations in Beirut, Lebanon; Operation Just Cause in Panama; and World War II’s Pacific front.

Editor’s Note: This information was provided by 2nd Marine Division Communications Strategy and Operations.

Lt. Col. Todd A. Pegg ’92 took command of the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group from Col. Doyle Gillis Jr., Aug. 19, 2020, at Fort Pickett, Virginia. Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher ’90, VNG land component commander, presided over the change of command ceremony and the exchange of organizational colors signifying the transfer of command from Gillis to Pegg. (Virginia National Guard photo by Cotton Puryear.)

Pegg ’92 Assumes Command of 329th Regional Support Group

Each August, U.S. Army Lt. Col. Todd Pegg ’92 goes from busy to busier. As VMI’s deputy commandant for operations, he is responsible for creating the elaborate matrixes of schedules that govern rat and cadre activities during Matriculation Week – a task made much harder this year by COVID-19 and the need for social distancing.

And this year, Pegg added a new level of responsibility to his already full plate when he assumed duties as commander of the Virginia Army National Guard’s 329th Regional Support Group, headquartered in Virginia Beach, Virginia. In that role, he’ll be responsible for more than 1,900 ARNG soldiers across the state.

“It’s the unit that really deploys the most in the Virginia Guard, and is very, very active,” said Pegg, who entered the ARNG as a cadet through the Simultaneous Membership Program, which allows cadets to both participate in Army ROTC and drill with the ARNG on weekends.

In 1992 he won the Jackson-Hope Medal, which is awarded each year to cadets who graduate at the top of their class. After graduating with a degree in mechanical engineering, Pegg commissioned into the Virginia ARNG.

“That way I could pursue my civilian engineering career and still be in the military,” explained Pegg.

Over the course of his 28-year career with the ARNG, Pegg has deployed four times, three of them to combat zones. He’s served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait – and the fourth time, Pegg’s unit was headed to Iraq when they got word to report to Fort Lee, near Richmond, instead.

Pegg doesn’t know how long he’ll be commander, but he said assignments typically last about two years.

“It’ll be my last assignment,” he noted, adding that his mandatory retirement from the ARNG will come in November 2022.

In a change of command ceremony held Aug. 19, Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher ’90, land component commander of the Virginia ARNG, praised Pegg’s leadership, saying, “You all know the kind of leader you’re getting, the kind of strategic thinker you’re getting … [Pegg] doesn’t shy away from challenging and complex duty assignments. He tends to go after them.”

For his part, Pegg said he’s looking forward to “really being at a level where I can work on building and influencing a team with impacts that go farther beyond just the time I’m there. There’s good training and working with leaders and soldiers who figure things out and develop skills and learn lessons – and that lasts longer than a command tour does.”

There’s good synergy, he added, between his job in the commandant’s office at VMI and his service in the ARNG. “The things I do in uniform for the Guard partner really well with the things I do in uniform on the commandant’s staff, so I not only have really good employer support of my service, but VMI also benefits from those experiences, skills, training and other things like that,” said Pegg.

Being commander, of course, means a daily level of responsibility – typically, there’s a few hours of computer time each evening in addition to trips to Virginia Beach, which take place at least once a month. Pegg, though, is more than willing to put in the hours, knowing that a commander’s time of service is typically short.

“When things go well and you’re surrounded by the right people, you have an influence that long outlasts that,” he said.

  • Mary Price VMI Communications & Marketing