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VMA-211 “Wake Island Avengers” Change of Command

Photo by Cpl. William Waterstreet

VMA-211 “Wake Island Avengers” Change of Command

13 Jun 2013 | Cpl. William Waterstreet 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Under the shade of the iconic Marine Attack Squadron 211 hangar at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., leadership of this historic squadron passed from one commander to another, signaling the end of one era and the beginning of another.

The outgoing commander of VMA-211, Lt. Col. Troy Pehrson, relinquished command and symbolically passed the colors to Lt. Col. Cory Simmons, the incoming commander, on May 31.

Pehrson looks back fondly over his time as the commanding officer of VMA-211 and the stellar Marines of such an illustrious squadron.

“I had a great time,” said Pehrson. “It was the Marines who made me want to come to work. It was them who made the difference and who made this job worthwhile.”

Pehrson began his command of VMA-211, a component of Marine Aircraft Group 13, after the squadron repelled an insurgent assault on Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, on Sept. 14, 2012. 

A veteran AV-8B Harrier pilot, Pehrson led his Marines through the remainder of their deployment, arriving safely back in the United States on Nov. 3, 2012.

Due to its exemplary performance in Afghanistan, VMA-211 was awarded the 2012 Lawson H. M. Sanderson Award (Attack Squadron of the Year) under Pehrson’s command.

In addition to commanding the Avengers, Pehrson has served as the commanding officer of VMA-214, the executive officer of VMA-542, the Headquarters Marine Corps Fixed Wing Manpower Specialist and AV-8B Requirements Officer. 

He is no stranger to deployments, having served with the 24th and 31st Marine Expeditionary Units in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

Pehrson’s next command will be at MCAS Cherry Point, N.C.

Prior to taking command of VMA-211, Lt. Col. Simmons was the acting commanding officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MAG-13, aboard MCAS Yuma. Before arriving aboard MCAS Yuma, he completed a joint duty assignment with U.S. Special Operations Command. 

While there, he worked as a Strategic Policy Officer writing national level policy as well as leading USSOCOM’s planning team in support of NATO Special Operations Headquarters. 

From January 2011 to January 2012, Lt. Col. Simmons was the Executive Officer to the Director of Strategy, Plans and Policy at USSOCOM.