5-Mar-2012 Source: US Marine Corps
Lt. Col. Allen D. Grinalds relinquished command of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 269 to Lt. Col. Mark E. Van Skike during a ceremony at the Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 29 hangar, Feb. 17.
Grinalds has been the commanding officer of the â€œGunrunnersâ€ squadron since October 2010.
Grinalds graduated from the Naval Academy and was commissioned in 1994. After receiving a designation as a naval aviator in 1996, he reported to Marine Light Attack Training Squadron 303 for training in the AH-1W Super Cobra. In May 1997, Grinalds reported to HMLA-267, where he completed two Marine Expeditionary Unit deployments.
Grinalds reported to Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron 1 as a weapons and tactics instructor. While there, he participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and served as the AH-1W division head.
In 2006, Grinalds served at the Pentagon as a speech writer and congressional affairs officer. He was promoted to his current rank and September 2010 and assumed command of HMLA-269 the next month.
â€œOne thing a leader needs is to get his priorities in order,â€ said Grinalds. â€œOnce that happens, everything falls into place.â€
Grinaldsâ€™s personal decorations include the distinguished flying cross, meritorious service medal and the air medal.
Lt. Col. Van Skike graduated from the University of Missouri and received his commission in May 1995. After becoming a naval aviator in March 1998, Van Skike reported to Camp Pendleton, Calif., for training as an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, and then proceeded to HMLA-369 upon graduation, where he served in several billets, including fire control officer, future operations officer, and weapons and tactics instructor.
In January 2000, he deployed with HMM-166 (Rein.) and the 15th MEU as an intelligence liaison officer. Three years later, Van Skike deployed with HMLA-369 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Van Skike later served with Royal Marines in the United Kingdom as part of an exchange program. There, he developed joint attack helicopter doctrine and complete mountain training in an arctic environment. He also completed a deployment to Bosnia.
Van Skike returned to the United States in June 2005 and completed a Masterâ€™s of Military Studies. In June 2006, he reported to Camp Pendleton for AH-1W refresher training and then returned to HMLA-369. During this time, he deployed twice in support of OIF.
His most recent assignment prior to taking command of HMLA-269 was at Headquarters Marine Corps, where he managed aviation training policies and aviation combat readiness.
Van Skikesâ€™s personal decorations include the meritorious service medal, the Navy and Marine Corps commendation medal and the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal.