Salutes & Awards

June 28, 2012

VMA-311 leader moves across station

Story and photos by Cpl. Shelby Shields
Desert Warrior Staff

Past and present Marine Attack Squadron 311 commanding officers, Lt. Col. Peter Blake and Lt. Col. Scott Mitchell, salute the color guard during the VMA-311 change of command ceremony June 22 at the squadron hangar.

Family, friends and Marines of Marine Attack Squadron 311 joined together at the squadron hangar June 22 for the change of command ceremony.

Lt. Col. Peter Blake relinquished command of VMA-311 to Lt. Col. Scott Mitchell. Blake will continue on to Marine Aircraft Group 13 Headquarters.

Lt. Col. Peter Blake, former Marine Attack Squadron 311 commanding officer, passes the squadron colors symbolizing the changing of command to Lt. Col. Scott Mitchell, oncoming VMA-311 commanding officer, during the squadron change of command ceremony June 22 at the VMA-311 hangar. Blake will transfer to Marine Aircraft Group 13 Headquarters.

“We are extremely happy to be staying close. It would be so sad to have to say goodbye to such an amazing squadron and Yuma all at once,” said Molly Blake, Lt. Col. Blake’s wife.  “It has been such a tremendous honor to be a part of this team. We’ve enjoyed getting to know the Marines and their families at every level.”

Before the change of command ceremony, Blake addressed his Marines for the last time in an informal school circle.

“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve with each and everyone of you,” said Blake to his Marines. “The things we’ve faced and accomplished over the last 19 months I’ve been here have made us a stronger squadron and I thank you for an amazing experience.”

Blake’s Marines share the same admiration for him as he does for them.

“Having a CO you’re proud of is just as important as having a squadron you’re proud of,” said Sgt. Maj. William Shaw, former VMA-311 sergeant major. “These Marines and myself are so proud of having the chance to serve with him.”

Like Blake, Mitchell did not have to travel far from his previous position as the MAG-13 current readiness officer.

“I am truly honored and humbled to join such a proficient and combat ready organization,” said Mitchell.

Following the ceremony, Marines and their families gathered at the Sonoran Pueblo on station to celebrate and honor their former leader and welcome the new.

Marine Attack Squadron 311 forms platoons for the change of command ceremony June 22 at the squadron hangar.

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