Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force

 

Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force

Gunner Vitale retires after 30 years of service

By Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders | Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force | June 26, 2015

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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, listens to the remarks of Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, as he talks about his time spent with Vitale in the Marine Corps and throughout the years during Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, listens to the remarks of Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, as he talks about his time spent with Vitale in the Marine Corps and throughout the years during Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, smiles as he listens to the remarks of Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller during Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, smiles as he listens to the remarks of Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller during Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, left, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, and his son, Vincent, wait to be presented with a certificate of commendation for his son’s selfless dedication to the Marine Corps as his father retires after more than 30 years of service during a retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale was honored with a Legion of Merit (gold star in lieu of the second award), and a certificate of appreciation from the president. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, left, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, and his son, Vincent, wait to be presented with a certificate of commendation for his son’s selfless dedication to the Marine Corps as his father retires after more than 30 years of service during a retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale was honored with a Legion of Merit (gold star in lieu of the second award), and a certificate of appreciation from the president. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, right, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, returns a salute to 1st Sgt. John D. Borders, first sergeant of Headquarters and Service Company, GCEITF, after presenting the national flag to Vitale during his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The flag was flown over Camp Wilson, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, April 29, 2015, while Marines were conducting the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity assessment. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, right, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, returns a salute to 1st Sgt. John D. Borders, first sergeant of Headquarters and Service Company, GCEITF, after presenting the national flag to Vitale during his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The flag was flown over Camp Wilson, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, California, April 29, 2015, while Marines were conducting the Marine Corps Operational Test and Evaluation Activity assessment. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, speaks to attendees of Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, speaks to attendees of Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, right, Maj. Gen. Brian D. Beaudreault, center, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, and other distinguished guests listen to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s remarks at his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, right, Maj. Gen. Brian D. Beaudreault, center, commanding general of 2nd Marine Division, and other distinguished guests listen to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s remarks at his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, addresses the Marines, his family and friends in attendance of his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, addresses the Marines, his family and friends in attendance of his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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(From left to right) Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, and his son, Vincent Vitale, stand in their positions during the pass and review of Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

(From left to right) Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, and his son, Vincent Vitale, stand in their positions during the pass and review of Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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The Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force color guard presents the colors to Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, Marine Corps Forces Command Commander, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas V. Vitale, GCEITF gunner, during the pass and review of his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

The Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force color guard presents the colors to Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, Marine Corps Forces Command Commander, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas V. Vitale, GCEITF gunner, during the pass and review of his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, salute as troops march by during the pass and review of Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, and Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, salute as troops march by during the pass and review of Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Marines of Company A, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, render a salute during the pass and review of Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released)

Marines of Company A, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force, render a salute during the pass and review of Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez/Released) (Photo by Cpl. Paul S. Martinez)


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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, right, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, waits to be decorated during his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, right, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, waits to be decorated during his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, center, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, and the parade, salute Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, in honoring the reviewing officer during Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, center, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, and the parade, salute Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, in honoring the reviewing officer during Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, takes his position in the reviewing area in preparation for the parade to honor the reviewing officer during Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, commander of Marine Corps Forces Command, takes his position in the reviewing area in preparation for the parade to honor the reviewing officer during Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Neller served as a mentor throughout Vitale’s career, and was the reviewing officer for his ceremony. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years of service in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Commanding Officer, speaks to attendees of Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. St. Clair thanked Vitale for his time in the Marine Corps and for service at the GCEITF gunner. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Commanding Officer, speaks to attendees of Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. St. Clair thanked Vitale for his time in the Marine Corps and for service at the GCEITF gunner. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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(From left to right) Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, his son, Vincent, mother, Rita, and brother, John, bow their heads during the chaplain’s invocation at Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

(From left to right) Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force Gunner, his son, Vincent, mother, Rita, and brother, John, bow their heads during the chaplain’s invocation at Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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Platoon commanders and guides render a salute to the Commander of Troops and staff during Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

Platoon commanders and guides render a salute to the Commander of Troops and staff during Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale’s retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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The Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force color guard presents the colors to Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, Marine Corps Forces Command Commander, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas V. Vitale, GCEITF gunner, during the pass and review of his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released)

The Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force color guard presents the colors to Lt. Gen. Robert B. Neller, Marine Corps Forces Command Commander, and Chief Warrant Officer Nicholas V. Vitale, GCEITF gunner, during the pass and review of his retirement ceremony June 18, 2015, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Vitale retired after serving more than 30 years in the Marine Corps. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders/Released) (Photo by Sgt. Alicia R. Leaders)


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MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --

“All I ever wanted to do was to be a Marine,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Nicholas V. Vitale, Marine Gunner with the Ground Combat Element Integrated Task Force. “I would see my dad and all his friends, and I’m like ‘oh yeah, that’s what I want to do.’”

Having grown up near Naval Air Stations, where his father was stationed and Marines guarded the gates, Vitale said he dreamt of being a Marine since he was five years old. In his teens, in February 1985, Vitale stepped on the yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, went through the rigorous training of boot camp, and shortly after was able to call himself a United States Marine.

“I’ve been a Marine since I was 19, and I’ve been wearing the uniform more than half my life,” Vitale said. “I am a firm believer that everything in the Marine Corps has a shelf life, whether it’s an M16A1 or a PRC-77. When they were new, they were great, and we used the hell out of them. I am the modern day version of a PRC-77 – I’m old. It’s time to turn this over to folks who can take us to the next chapter in the Marine Corps.”

More than 30 years later, Vitale closed the chapter of his Marine Corps career as he stood in front of his family, friends and fellow Marines, at W.P.T. Hill Field, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, during his retirement ceremony, June 18, 2015. 

“This is a day I will remember for the rest of my life,” Vitale said. “It is a bittersweet day, but it is my time to go. I will miss putting on the uniform every day and knowing that I’m a part of a martial organization that is so much more than the mere sum of its parts. I don’t know if I’ll miss the Marine Corps as much as I will miss the individual Marines.”

Vitale has come across many Marines throughout his career, as he served both as an enlisted Marine and Marine officer. Vitale reached the rank of gunnery sergeant before he was commissioned as a warrant officer, and continued his career as a Marine Gunner.

“Nick, I first met you when I was a young captain and you were a young staff sergeant,” said Col. Matthew G. St. Clair, GCEITF Commanding Officer. “Our paths came along again at 4th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and that was when I knew you as a gunner, and that is when your impact on me stayed.”

Throughout the years, St. Clair said the two kept in touch and St. Clair would turn to Vitale for his guidance and mentorship. Vitale’s last tour of duty before retiring was spent at the GCEITF – where he continued to teach and mentor Marines who came his way.

“Over the past year, it’s like I’ve stood next to a brother,” said St. Clair as he addressed Vitale during the ceremony. “I couldn’t have asked for a better gunner to be here (at the GCEITF) to lead us through this last year and to have the impact you’ve had on these Marines and the impact they will have on the service. It’s been a pleasure, brother.”

Marine leaders amongst the crowd in attendance, fulfilling capacities as staff noncommissioned officers and field grade officers and up, stood as a testament to the legacy in the Marines Vitale has advised, trained and led, not only at the Task Force, but throughout his 30-year career.   

“Marines are why real leaders stay in the Marine Corps – because they love teaching, coaching and mentoring,” Vitale said. “I fully intended to do a full career, whether it was 20 or 30 years. Marines are the finest creatures on the face of the planet, and to be considered part of their mentoring and learning process, that’s the biggest rush there is.”

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