OKINAWA, Japan - Lt. Col. Damien M. Marsh finished his final day as commanding officer on Marine Corps Air Station Futenma June 1.
Marsh led Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, Marine Aircraft Group 36, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, III Marine Expeditionary Force, with the wisdom gained through years of experience as a CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter pilot.
“My job was to support the Marines as they achieved their goals for the command,” said Marsh. “The number-one goal they set forth was to uphold the legacy of the squadron and the reputation of the CH-46E. Over the past two years, these Marines never dropped a mission and never missed a launch.”
Marsh was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps in May 1991. Since then, he has been assigned to many different units throughout the world.
He deployed several times in support of Operations Iraqi and Enduring Freedom.
“I still remember my very first flight in the (CH-46E), seeing the faces of the muddy, wet and tired men begin to smile as we flew them home. It made a lasting impression,” said Marsh. “For many in need, the tandem rotors of the CH-46E have served as the two hands of God. I will miss her greatly.”
Marsh took pride in being a CH-46E Sea Knight pilot.
As a leader, Marsh took the time to get to know the Marines in his command. He was described as approachable and caring but still demanding the best and most from his Marines, according to Sgt. Anthony D. McKoy, the communications chief for the squadron.
“Even when we were deployed with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, Lt. Col. Marsh always took time out of his day to check on all of us,” said McKoy. “You can tell he has a passion for being a commanding officer.”
With so much time as a commander under his belt, Marsh is fully aware of the impact a strong chain of command has on a unit.
“I have spent much of my time in flying squadrons, and I have seen firsthand how long and hard Marines work to keep aircraft in the sky,” said Marsh. “I have stayed in our Corps this long solely to be able to influence the lives and conditions of our Marines. As a commanding officer, you have the ultimate ability to support and influence Marines.”
Marsh’s leadership traits have helped the squadron grow throughout the past few years, according to Staff Sgt. Bruce W. Jones Jr., the administrative chief for the squadron.
“I do not see my influence as (bringing) changes,” said Marsh. “I believe I only upheld and attempted to improve the legacy of the squadron and the previous commanders.”
Marsh spent time with his Marines, learning about them and knowing most by name, said McKoy. The Marines quickly and easily gained respect for Marsh.
“He instilled a sense of ‘don’t-let-me-down’ in each and every one of us,” said Jones. “If you were to make a big mistake, you would feel as if you let him down; you would feel emotionally bad about what you did.”
Marsh turned the squadron over to Lt. Col. William L. DePue Jr. DePue will do great, according to Marsh.
“The Marine Corps succeeds by refreshing faces, personalities and leadership every few years,” said Jones. “We will miss Lt. Col. Marsh, but I believe Lt. Col. DePue will bring a fresh perspective.”
After eight years overseas, Marsh will continue his career as an advisor at the U.S. State Department, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
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