Schnelle assumes command of VMA-542, Perez bids farewell

4 Feb 2013 | Lance Cpl. S. T. Stewart

Lt. Col. Michael J. Perez  relinquished command of Marine Attack Squadron 542 to Lt. Col. Jay Schnelle during a change of command ceremony aboard the air station Friday.

Perez will serve on the Marine Aircraft Group 14 staff until his summer departure to attend the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa.

“Though I will miss it dearly, I know it is for the good of the squadron to have some new blood in command,” said Perez. “The thing I will miss the most are the people I served with.”

Schnelle comes to the squadron from MAG-14 where he served as the officer in charge of the personnel support detachment, an administrative arm that takes care of the Marines within the group as they support the operational goals of MAG-14.

Schnelle looks forward to commanding VMA-542, an AV-8B Harrier squadron of more than 200 Marines.

“I’m excited for the simple fact that the Harrier community is going to be around until 2030,” he said. “We provide air support for Marines on the ground. That’s a big deal. It gives them the confidence that they need to do whatever it is that they need to do, and to win the tactical battles that they are involved in.”

Schnelle attributed the future success of the squadron to its Marines.

“Our future depends upon young Marines in this squadron,” he said. “It’s all about that brand new (private first class), lance corporal, that noncommissioned officer, that staff NCO and that young officer. We have to mentor them; we have to prepare them for anything so we can continue to support the Marines on the ground.”

Schnelle said training is of utmost importance for the attack squadron, and maintaining a high state of readiness is his primary goal as the new commanding officer.

“My goals are very simple. We need to be ready to answer the call when it’s given,” said Schnelle. “We never know when that’s going to come but we need to be prepared. We need to train to be able to continue the support of those expeditionary operations in the long term.”

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point