Marines, sailors, and distinguished visitors gathered together aboard Moron Air Base, Spain, to observe Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 162 receive a new commander during a change-of-command ceremony, April 26, 2014.
Lieutenant Colonel Brian T. Koch took command of VMM-162 from Lt. Col. Robert A. Freeland. The squadron from Marine Corps Air Station New River, N.C., is currently deployed to Spain as part of the aviation combat element for Special-Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force Crisis Response.
Freeland joined VMM-162 in September 2011 while the squadron was deployed to Helmand province, Afghanistan, in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He then took charge as commander the following March. Once again deployed, Freeland now relinquishes his command in Spain.
In recognition of his efforts and outstanding performance, Freeland was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal during the ceremony.
“We succeed at everything we do because every challenge we face, we stomp it flat,” said Freeland to the Marines of the squadron. “You toil and you triumph every single day. All these great things that you’ve seen and heard, you made it happen. There’s still work to do… You need to stay strong, stay focused. Come home safe. Come home proud. I’ve had no greater honor than serving with you.”
Replacing Freeland is Akron, Ohio, native, Koch. After graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1996, Koch received a commission into the Marine Corps, where he was designated as a naval aviator and assigned to pilot the CH-46E. He most recently served as the executive officer for Marine Aircraft Group 26, also from MCAS New River.
“I am honored and thrilled to return to VMM-162,” said Koch. “I look forward to continuing the proud legacy of this squadron. Lt. Col. Freeland’s leadership over the last two years has been instrumental in developing the operational capability of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response. With the recent growth of the aviation combat element, our operational reach will continue to expand along with our ability to support bilateral training in support of Marine Forces Europe and Africa.”
Together with the other elements of SP-MAGTF Crisis Response, VMM-162 provides U.S. Africa Command with the ability to rapidly respond to a broad range of operations to include: U.S. Embassy reinforcement, non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations, and other missions as directed. The MV-22B Osprey – the squadron’s flagship aircraft – can fly much faster and farther than traditional helicopters and has been critical to the unit’s rapid response capability to their area of operation.
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