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Citadel News Service
21 Apr 2009

Finalists for commandant of cadets

Marine Col. Leo A. Mercado

Mercado is currently serving as Secretary of the General Staff, Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, Va. He is the principal assistant to the Director, Marine Corps Staff for coordinating, supporting, and administrating all staff actions across all functional areas.

Mercado has also:

  • Served as chief of staff at Marine Corps University where he was responsible for 450 military and civilian personnel and an operating budget of $25 million.
  • Commanded the Security Battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he was responsible for security and emergency services for a military installation encompassing 70 square miles and 61,000 people.
  • Served as chief of the military liaison team in Bucharest, Romania.
  • Commanded the First Recruit Training Battalion at the Marine Corps Recruit Training Depot at Parris Island.
    • Served as aide to the president of the United States.

Mercado, a Field Artillery Officer, earned a degree in political science from The Citadel in 1979 and received his master’s degree in public administration from Shippensburg University and a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College. He currently resides in Fairfax, Va.

Marine Col. David J. Mollahan


Mollahan is currently the director of the division of humanities and social sciences and senior Marine Corps representative at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md. He leads 210 military and civilian faculty in five academic departments and supervises 50 Marines assigned to the Naval Academy.

Mollahan also:
  • Served as commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 26 in Al Asad, Iraq, and New River, N.C. where he led 13 squadrons and more than 4,100 personnel and 150 rotary and fixed wing aircraft and managed $4 billion in assets during combat operations in Iraq. He also flew helicopters in support of Operation DESERT THUNDER 1996 in the Arabian Gulf, and RESTORE HOPE /UNOSOM II in Somalia 1991.
  • Served as the chief of staff at Second Marine Aircraft Wing at Cherry Point, N.C.
  • Supervised 150 headquarters personnel in support of a wing of more than 15,000 personnel and 400 rotary and fixed wing aircraft.
  • Served as deputy chief of staff at U.S. Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va., where he managed daily mission assignments from the Pentagon.

A Naval aviator, Mollohan received a bachelor’s degree in nuclear engineering technology in 1979 from Oregon State University. He went on to get a master’s degree in military studies from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College. He also attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Security Studies Program as a Commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow in 2001.

Army Col. Richard C. Townes

Townes is currently Professor of Military Science and the commanding officer of the Army ROTC unit at The Citadel where he has served since 2007.

Townes also has:

  • Commanded the U.S. Army Infantry School Training Support Brigade at Fort Benning, Ga., where he was responsible for instruction on the Bradley, Stryker and infantry weapons systems and for training over 72,000 soldiers and civilians annually, managed a $13 million dollar budget, and $300 million dollars in government equipment.
  • Supervised military, civilian and contractor personnel in support of Army homeland defense in the U.S. and its territories as a division chief in Headquarters Department of the Army G-3 at the Pentagon.
  • Served as politico-military planner for homeland security and defense in the Strategic Plans and Policy Directorate of the Joint Staff at the Pentagon and supported the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with analysis, evaluation and coordination of strategic military policy on national defense and homeland security issues.
  • Served as a rifle battalion commander in Hohenfels, Germany, where he was responsible for a combined arms battalion of 650 personnel including aviation, armored, mechanized and infantry units.

Townes, a U. S. Army Infantryman, earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1983 from The Citadel. He received his master’s degree in business management from Central Michigan University and a master’s degree in strategic studies from the U.S. Army War College.

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