Home News US Marine Colonel relieved of command for drunk driving incident in Australia

US Marine Colonel relieved of command for drunk driving incident in Australia

U.S. Marine Corps Col. James Schnelle, commanding officer of Marine Rotational Force-Darwin and Deputy Commander Northern Command CAPT Bryan Parker, Royal Australian Navy hold a press conference at Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, Darwin, Northern Territory, Australia, April 23, 2018. MRF-D was established by former U.S. President Barack Obama and former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2011 to build and strengthen partnerships in the Pacific region. Approximately 1,500 Marines are scheduled to participate in training events around the country. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Andrew Piehler)

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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