From private to one-star,
Marine retires in honor
In 1984, Paul K. Lebidine was a boot at Parris Island, working hard to graduate as the honorman.

Thirty-three years later, Brigadier Gen. Lebidine stood on a parade ground at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, serenaded by a marching band and lauded by top military leaders as a humble commander who gave much of his adult life to his country.

Lebidine retired during a ceremony Saturday evening on the air base. Until April 7, he led the New Orleans-based 4th Marine Division, the reserve ground combat arm of the Corps.

“Although this is, in some sense, my retirement, what this really is is a passing. It’s a passing of traditions from one generation to the next,” said Lebidine, who followed the path of his grandfather and father into military service.

Meritoriously promoted to corporal, Lebidine served as a platoon commander and company executive officer in 1st Battalion, 4th Marines, deploying to war in Iraq during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

He spent more than a decade on active duty before joining the reserves.

The Corps also activated him for five more combat deployments to Iraq or Afghanistan, but Lebidine still retired Saturday as a reservist.

“You know, this is kind of a shame, in a way,” said retired Brigadier Gen. Michael I. Neil, a recipient of the Navy Cross for combat heroism in Vietnam. “He retires with a ‘R’ after his name when he was a regular officer for those 10 years.”

Saying he was “damned proud of that ‘R,’” Lebidine, 56, built and commanded Camp Babylon in Iraq before advising the Iraqi Army in Al Qaim and the National Operations Center in Baghdad.

The San Diego resident spent two years in Afghanistan and a pair of advisory and development commands before taking the helm of 4th Marine Division in late 2015.

Lebidine’s decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon with a gold star.

“It’s really hard to be a reserve Marine,” said Lebidine, a former police officer who graduated from the Thomas Jefferson Law School.

“They’re just as dedicated, just as focused, but they don’t have the time. It’s really hard to try to keep everything moving in their lives and to keep working toward, and keep holding to the standards that they’re required to uphold.”

Lebidine will retire to care for his aging and ill mother and father. He also vowed to spend more time with his wife, Angie, and their two daughters Brooke and Brynne, after so many years overseas.
SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 910 P.M.
(Carl Prine/ San Diego Union-Tribune)
While the SDPD has a proud tradition of military service, no one has gone as far as
Officer Paul K. Lebidine