Married Marine Colonels to Take on Separate Commands on the Same Day

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Colonels Amy and Curtis Ebitz pose for a picture. Colonel Amy Ebitz is taking command of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Colonel Curtis Ebitz is taking command of Marine Corps Air Station New River. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Miranda DeKorte)
Colonels Amy and Curtis Ebitz pose for a picture. Colonel Amy Ebitz is taking command of Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East-Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, and Colonel Curtis Ebitz is taking command of Marine Corps Air Station New River. (U.S. Marine Corps photo/Miranda DeKorte)

During two separate Marine Corps change-of-command ceremonies Friday in North Carolina, Col. Ebitz will take the reins.

In the morning, Col. Amy Ebitz will step in to lead Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations East at Camp Lejeune. Then in the afternoon, her husband, Col. Curtis Ebitz will take command of nearby Marine Corps Air Station New River. The two bases are about 10 miles apart and each Ebitz plans to attend the other's ceremony with their two children, Curtis, 12, and Sevina, 8, by their sides.

Married since 2003, this won't be the first time they've commanded a unit at the same time. But it will be the first time that they will assume their leadership roles on the same day.

While stationed in Okinawa, Japan, Curtis Ebitz commanded Marine Wing Headquarters Squadron One with 1st Marine Aircraft Wing from 2013 to 2015, while Amy Ebitz commanded the 3rd Law Enforcement Battalion for III Marine Expeditionary Force from 2012 to 2014. That time, their tenure as commanders overlapped about one year.

Friday's ceremonies kick off their efforts to do what they call "balance excellence," and ensure their family at home and their Marine Corps family get the proper attention.

"It has been a journey, but it's a family journey," Amy Ebitz, a law enforcement officer, said in an interview recorded and posted online by Marine Corps Installation East public affairs. "It's very much like running a business in some respects. There's a lot of coordination that goes on and takes place behind the scenes and a lot of moving pieces that always have to be lockstep for everything to come together in the way that it should."

The Marine Corps, like the other services, does have a policy to "minimize separations" when both spouses are active duty. They are one of about 3,444 Marine couples on active duty, according to Marine Corps Manpower and Reserve Affairs.

Amy and Curtis Ebitz met in 2001 as captains attending Amphibious Warfare School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va. They married two years later.

"It's not as negatively stigmatized as it used to be to have two Marines who want to have a career," said Amy Ebitz. "It used to be that it was always the woman has to get out or one of them has to get out, especially if children come into the picture. I don't think that's the case anymore."

"It's a 50-50 relationship," said Curtis Ebitz, a Marine aviator. "It's what we like to call balanced excellence -- finding the right balance between personal and professional life. Additionally, it's been nice to have a sounding board for work-related issues and knowing when to separate work from family."

Sometimes that balance includes a high-five as they pass each other in the airport going to and from work trips, he said.

In the early years of marriage, the two admit they faced challenges. They spent about half of their first four years together deployed to Iraq -- separately and concurrently.

Leading Marines and parenting children are two very different tasks and part of the challenge has been learning to separate the two.

"I think my son said it best when he was about four and we moved to Hawaii. He got frustrated and he said, 'I'm not one of your Marines,'" Amy Ebitz said. "That was eye opening for me."

The Ebitz family came to eastern North Carolina from Washington D.C., where Amy Ebitz was senior commandant of the Marine Corps Fellow at the Brookings Institution and Curtis Ebitz led the Aviation Plans, Programs, and Budget Branch at Headquarters Marine Corps.

"I think, whether you're an officer or enlisted, the bottom line is, if you want to make it work, you'll find a way to make it work," Amy Ebitz said.

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