New Jersey Academy Appointee Honored After Accomplished Military Career
After three and a half decades of service to our nation, Col. Eric Mellinger (Ret.) of the U.S. Marines, who was first nominated to the U.S. Air Force Academy by Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) in 1982, has retired from the military. At a ceremony held in Smith’s office today, his astonishing career was honored—and today’s pressing issues were discussed.
“When I saw Eric in action it was clear that he has earned extraordinary respect,” said Smith referencing Mellinger’s leadership after Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. “His leadership ensured that a desperate, shell-shocked population of victims got immediate, tangible help.”
Smith met with Mellinger during a humanitarian assistance congressional delegation trip (CODEL) to the Philippines in 2013 where Mellinger helped the delegation understand the true damage wrought by Haiyan.
In addition to graduating from the Air Force Academy, Mellinger has also obtained an MS in National Security Strategy from the National War College. Notable accomplishments also include joining the office of Secretary Leon Panetta as a Military Assistant and the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force in Okinawa Japan, serving as Chief of Staff. It was in this role that he saved countless lives as one of the leading U.S. voices in the Philippines after the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan.
During the ceremony, Mellinger noted several of the threats that the United States faces in the Pacific, notably the growing threat of North Korea.“While I was stationed there, six [North Korean] rockets flew over Okinawa, one was so low people saw the contrails,” said Mellinger. “But the worst victims of the aggression are the North Korean people.”