Col. Leo Mercado named next commandant of cadets
Marine Corps Col. Leo A. Mercado, Citadel Class of 1979, has been named The Citadel’s next commandant of cadets.
“Col. Leo Mercado is a proven leader who will move The Citadel forward by setting high standards for the South Carolina Corps of Cadets,” said Citadel President Lt. Gen. John W. Rosa. “He is deeply committed to the idea of principled leadership that is at the heart of The Citadel experience. And, as an alumnus, Leo Mercado understands the culture and traditions of The Citadel. I am proud to have him as a member of my leadership team.”
The Commandant of Cadets is a vice presidential position responsible for the command and control of the undergraduate 2,100-member South Carolina Corps of Cadets. The commandant reports directly to the president.
Mercado is currently serving as secretary of the General Staff at Headquarters Marine Corps in Arlington, Va. He is the principal assistant to the director of Marine Corps Staff for coordinating, supporting, and administrating all staff actions. He will begin work at The Citadel on July 6.
"I am deeply honored and humbled that Lt. Gen. Rosa and the Board of Visitors would entrust me with the accountability and responsibility for the Corps of Cadets," Mercado said. "I am also grateful for the opportunity to serve The Citadel family and eager to work with Gen. Rosa, the staff, and faculty in developing the cadets as principled leaders to one day take their rightful places in the ‘Long Gray Line.' "
Mercado 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.
During his Marine Corps career, Mercado 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. He also commanded the Security Battalion at Camp Pendleton, Calif., 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 and served as aide to the president of the United States.
Mercado, a field artillery officer, was selected from 30 applicants to replace outgoing Commandant Col. Greg Stone. Stone came to The Citadel in 2006 from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he was deputy commandant.
“In three years, Col. Stone made a tremendous impact on The Citadel. He cared deeply about every cadet and worked tirelessly to build The Citadel Experience on a foundation of values and respect,” Rosa said.
A graduate of West Point, Stone plans to step down May 29. He and his wife will enter the private sector in Columbus, Ga.