Talk about a blunder Down Under- the Colonel in charge of US Marines in northern Australia has been relieved of command and pleaded guilty after police caught him driving under the influence.
48-year-old Colonel James Schnelle pleaded guilty earlier today to driving under the influence of alcohol after being arrested late last month. His blood-alcohol content was reportedly twice over Australia’s legal limit.
Colonel Schnelle is in command of the US Marines participation in a six-month aviation training rotation in Darwin, which includes AH-1W Super Cobra helicopters, UH-1Y Venom helicopters, F/A-18 Hornet aircraft and MC-130 Hercules aircraft.
According to ABC News, a First Marine Division spokesman said Schnelle was “relieved of his duties on Sept. 30 due to a loss of trust and confidence.”
Schnelle issued a statement concerning his actions, saying that his “poor decision” should not be the highlight of an otherwise successful rotation.
“A solid foundation is established; at the tactical, operational, and strategic levels, the future is ripe for continued growth,” Schnelle said.
Schnelle’s driver’s license has since been suspended and he was fined $353. LTC Jeramy Brady has since taken over leadership duties.
Prior to this incident, Schnelle’s USMC career was relatively stellar. Commissioning in 1993, he flew AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft for most of his career, as well as serving as the Assistant Inspector-Instructor at 3d Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company (ANGLICO). Prior to taking command of Marine Rotational Force- Darwin, he logged over 1,800 flight hours.
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