MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. -- Nearly two years ago, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 163 conducted a large-scale division flight to test their efficiency, readiness, and capabilities. Today, the squadron flawlessly executed the same flight, symbolizing continuity in light of the changing winds.
Lt. Col. Jason Holden, commanding officer of VMM-163, and a Woodbridge, Virginia native, will relinquish command of his squadron April 16. In keeping with how he entered the command, he led his squadron’s MV-22B Ospreys in a training operation.
“This is something that we had to do when I took over the command,” said Holden. “We had a large flight we had to put together to support a [fragmentation order] at Twenty Nine Palms, and I challenged the team to get the planes up and ready to do it. Between then and now, we’ve been pretty busy with the deployment and everything else, and so we haven’t since had the opportunity.”
Much of Holden’s tour at VMM-163 was dedicated to preparing for and participating in a 7-month deployment with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
“I think as we come back from the deployment, it’s easy to kind of rest on your laurels and say, ‘look what we did,’ but I think it’s important to continue to set the bar high and challenge ourselves,” he said. “Right before I turn over command, to show them that they are still as good as they were two months ago when we got back, that they still have the talent and the capability, and to reemphasize that, I gave them this challenge and to have them come through for it I think is good.”
With the execution of this training operation, the talent he speaks of is on display for the next Marine to take the reigns as the squadron’s commanding officer.
“This shows the incoming commander how solid a team he has prior to the change of command,” said Holden. “He’s got a bunch of Marines who can hit homeruns for him. It demonstrates to the new commander what he’s coming into.”
No matter who’s in charge, Holden emphasizes the idea that VMM-163’s mission remains the same.
“Squadrons, we exist to fly airplanes and train pilots, that way we can do the missions that we’re required to do,” he said. “But we can’t execute that mission without the Marines in maintenance to give us the planes to fly. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication they have to the mission and I could not be more proud.”