AL ASAD, Iraq -- Col. Stuart L. "Pit Bull" Knoll relinquished command of Marine Aircraft Group 16, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, to Col. Guy M. "Guyser" Close, here, April 16. Among those in attendance was Maj. Gen. James F. Amos, commanding general, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing.
Knoll, a Chippewa Falls, Wis., native, passes on a MAG with an outstanding safety record to Close, who grew up in Wellsboro, Pa.
"I have a tough act to follow," said Close in his remarks. "It is indeed my honor and privilege to assume the reins of a Group possessing such a proud and magnificent history, and I cannot think of a grander place for such a ceremony."
It is fortunate that the two chose to have to change of command during the deployment instead of in the rear. In the weeks prior to the passing of the colors, Close spent several weeks shadowing Knoll and the MAG-16 staff.
This is a second deployment for both colonels - Knoll, who deployed as Landing Force West commander in 2003, and Close, who served as Operational Support Aircraft Detachment officer-in-charge at Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base in Kuwait.
Close was a commissioned a second lieutenant in 1979, and following graduation from The Basic School in 1980, attended flight school in Pensacola, Fla., to become an aviator.
His deployments include a Northern Atlantic Treaty Organization deployment to Norway, two Mediterranean deployments, the first of which supported the United States Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.
Close has served in billets ranging from aircraft maintenance officer to executive officer and on to commanding officer, in a myriad of duty stations. He has served around the globe, before arriving in Iraq to take command of the forward-deployed Group.
"It has been an honor serving with these men and women, and I'm ready to put up my spurs," said Knoll to Close. "Your solid leadership, common sense and good humor will serve you well as you embark on your journey."