Photo Information

Sgt. Maj. Steven Collier, center, salutes as Lt. Col. John A. Rahe Jr., right, passes the Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 colors to Lt. Col. Craig C. Wirth during the VMAT-203 change of command ceremony at the squadron hangar March 24.

Photo by Pfc. Cory D. Polom

VMAT-203 under new leadership

31 Mar 2011 | Pfc. Cory D. Polom

Two AV-8B Harriers provided close-air support for the MV-22B Osprey that rescued the Air Force pilot who crashed in Libya early last week.

Back in Cherry Point, command of the squadron responsible for training all Harrier pilots in the Marine Corps recently changed hands.

“Right now in the news you see Harriers doing great things,” said Lt. Col. John A. Rahe Jr., outgoing commanding officer of Marine Attack Training Squadron 203. “Here in this unit we have created these world class pilots that are kicking butt out there.”

This was the conversation after Rahe’s final physical training with his squadron.

The Marines of VMAT-203 were led by Rahe in a three-mile run as a final goodbye to his Marines March 23.

Rahe relinquished command of VMAT-203 to Lt. Col. Craig C. Wirth during a change of command ceremony held outside the squadron hangar March 24.

“It is the job of 203 to produce and refresh the world class pilots who strengthen our Harrier community,” said Wirth. “I expect these Marines to work hard and continue to strive for greatness.”

Wirth is now in charge of the training that is the final step for anyone wishing to become a Harrier pilot.

“This squadron produces fleet replacement pilots for the Harrier community,” said Maj. Gen. Jon. M. Davis, the commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing. “You have maintained focus on the fight and the mission, producing some of the best trained Harrier pilots.”

Rahe said he knows VMAT-203 will continue to be productive under the command of Wirth.

“Lt. Col. Wirth, you are very mission oriented,” said Rahe. “Continue to push these Marines. These Marines make sure all of these birds are not only training ready but ready for combat as well.”

Wirth stressed how important the mission of VMAT-203 is to the Marine Corps.

“This unit has produced some world-class Marines,” said Wirth. “We will continue to work hard at producing the best finished product to help complete the mission of the Marine Corps.”

With his final words of his speech, Rahe gave a last piece of advice to his successor.

“These Marines will work hard to be perfect,” said Rahe. “These Marines are going to change the world and it just takes one person to make sure they reach their potential. Take care of these Marines, and they will take care of you.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point