CAMP BASTION, Afghanistan --
The Marines, sailors and civilians of a deployed Marine aviation logistics squadron welcomed a new commanding officer during a ceremony at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, July 2.
Lt Col. Clarence T. Harper III relinquished command of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 40 to Lt. Col. Russell A. Blauw during the ceremony. Blauw served previously as the commanding officer of Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31, based at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, S.C.
MALS-40 is currently responsible for providing logistical support including maintenance, ordnance, intermediate support and supply for the squadrons of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward).
Following the passing of the colors from the outgoing to the incoming commanding officer signifying the command change, Harper spoke about his experience during the deployment, and the relationship his squadron has with the 2nd MAW (Fwd.) squadrons it supports.
“The communication between the squadron commanders and MALS-40 was always timely and abundant,” said Harper. “I was absolutely amazed with the amount of communication we had with our squadrons. We are a very focused bunch of Marines and sailors here. I’m very pleased with that, and you can rest assured that with Lt. Col. Blauw in charge that will continue.”
Standing before a formation of MALS-40 Marines, Harper commended the troops for their efforts and accomplishments.
“I met with the Marines and sailors last week, and I’m a big ‘love-y’ guy, so I told them how much I loved them – and I really meant that,” said Harper. “There was never a question of whether we could come out here and do the mission. We had Marines and sailors from many different units and they all pulled together. I am absolutely flabbergasted with how good these people are.”
Harper, who will leave Afghanistan to attend the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, expressed his confidence in Blauw, who he said was like a brother to him.
“Lt. Col. Blauw is just a super guy,” said Harper. “I have no concerns about MALS-40. I know he’s going to take it to the next level.”
After Harper’s comments, Blauw took the floor to address his new squadron for the first time as its commanding officer.
“To the Marines, sailors and civilians of MALS-40, I’m honored to serve as your commanding officer,” said Blauw. “Our mission is simple: We have to enable our squadrons to succeed so they can provide aviation support to the Marines on the ground in harm’s way.”
Blauw then spelled out his vision for the squadron for the remainder of their Afghanistan deployment.
“The end state for this tour should be that you leave here with a tremendous sense of accomplishment,” said Blauw “You should leave knowing that you had turned operations over to the next group in a good way, and that you are returning home to your families safely.”
Connect with 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward) throughout the deployment. Stay up to date with the latest 2nd MAW (Fwd.) news, photos and videos at http://www.facebook.com/2ndmawfwd.