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Col. Chad Blair, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16, left, receives the MAG-16 battle standard from Col. Anthony Bianca, former commanding officer of MAG-16, during the MAG-16 change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, July 30. The passing of the flag signified the passing of command from Bianca to Blair. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Brian Marion/Released)

Photo by Sgt. Brian Marion

MAG-16 changes command

31 Jul 2015 | Sgt. Brian Marion 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing

Col. Anthony Bianca, commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 16, relinquished command to Col. Chad Blair during a change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California, July 30.

Bianca led MAG-16 and its subordinate units through 13 deployments in support of Unit Deployment Programs, Marine Expeditionary Units, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Forces. Additionally, MAG-16 accumulated more than 60,000 flight hours, 1.1 million maintenance man-hours and flew more than 59,000 flight missions under his leadership.

“Thank you so much for coming out here today,” said Bianca. “This is not my change of command or Chad’s change of command; it is MAG-16’s change of command. We identify by the unit not by the commander or the sergeant major. We identify by what we do and how we do it, and that has worked pretty well for us.”

MAG-16 was formed on March 1, 1952, and its subordinate units participated in numerous exercises and operations, including; Combined-Arms Exercises, Weapons and Tactics Instruction Courses, Kernel Blitz, Desert Fire Exercises, Desert Punch, Seahorse Wind, Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.

“All those wonderful accomplishments, those aren’t mine, they are not the staff headquarters’,” said Bianca. “They belong to the rank and file, the guys with the bruised knuckles and the dirty cammies. Those are the ones who are getting it done.”

Prior to becoming the commander of MAG-16, Blair was the J-5 Division Chief, Theater Strategy and Campaign Plans, North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command. 

“I am honored and humbled to become the commanding officer to the Marines and Sailors of MAG-16,” said Blair. “I look forward to serving beside them as we write the next chapter in the illustrious history of MAG-16.”

Bianca is slated to become the Director of Expeditionary Warfare for the Chief of Naval Operations at the Pentagon.

“I am sad that I am leaving, but I am excited that [Blair] is here to take command,” said Bianca. “[He is] the right guy for this job. [Col. Patrick Gramuglia] gave it to me, I’m giving it to him, and he will take MAG-16 to the next level.”


3rd Marine Aircraft Wing