Candidate for Marine commandant has ties to Beaufort air station

Gen. James Amos
Gen. James Amos

The four-star general nominated by Defense Secretary Robert Gates to become the next commandant of the Marine Corps has ties to Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort.

Gen. James Amos was announced Monday as Gates' nominee to President Barack Obama to replace Gen. James Conway, whose four-year term ends this fall. The White House is expected to accept Gates' choice, but Amos still must be confirmed by the Senate.

Amos would be the first former jet pilot to become Marine commandant.

Currently the Corps' assistant commandant, Amos served as the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 31 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, according to his official Marine Corps biography.

Amos assumed command of the group, which oversees the air station's F-18 Hornet squadrons, in May 1996, the biography said. Officials at Headquarters Marine Corps declined to provide information on when Amos left MCAS Beaufort, but his biography said he was promoted to brigadier general in 1998 and was assigned to a NATO command in Naples, Italy.

Gunnery Sgt. Chad McMeen, air station spokesman, said Marines are proud to see one of their own ascend to the service's highest position.

"The commandant sets policies and shapes the future of the Corps, and knowing that the general nominated for that position has served here in Beaufort is pretty exciting," McMeen said.

If confirmed by the Senate, Amos wouldn't be the first Marine commandant with Lowcountry ties.

According to Corps historians, five of the 34 men to serve as commandant have some connection to Beaufort, including Gen. Randolph Pate, who was born in Port Royal in 1898.

Former Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island commanding Gen. Robert Barrow became commandant in 1979, the last with Beaufort ties.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.