For Last Commander, Mission Accomplished


Col. Stephen Mugg, El Toro’s last base commander, is, in vintage Marine fashion, not one to get carried away by sentimentalities.

“You’re not going to get melancholy from me,” he says.

But Mugg, 50, is aware of his unique role in the storied history of the base and the importance of closing El Toro with dignity, grace and efficiency. He speaks with a gruff pride and matter-of-factness of how he has supervised one of the largest logistical operations in the Corps’ history: the combining of two military bases--El Toro and Tustin--into one at the Miramar Marine Corps Air Station in San Diego.

Since he took over in September, Mugg has overseen the relocation of several thousand military personnel and about 260 planes and helicopters.


“We haven’t skipped a beat,” says Mugg, who after 26 years of military service will retire in February to his home in Mission Viejo.

Mugg says he hasn’t had time to be emotional about the end of a chapter in Marine Corps history. The last year has been “one headlong dash toward a goal.”

The only time he found himself getting teary-eyed, he says, was just before the last squadron of fighter planes left in May. He walked down the line, counting the noses of the fighters, patting each of them affectionately, savoring the moment and reflecting on the significance of their departure: “It’s bittersweet.”