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AL ASAD, Iraq ? Lt. Col. Jeffery A. Baumert, incoming commanding officer, Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 142, receives the squadron colors from Lt. Col. Charles B. Sagebiel, outgoing commander, May 6. Baumert served as the squadron's executive officer and takes command from Sagebiel, who led the Gators to Iraq in the first deployment to combat in 50 years for a reserve fixed wing fighter squadron.

Photo by Cpl. Alicia M. Garcia

Gators welcome new commander

6 May 2005 | Capt. Rob James

Lt. Col. Charles B. Sagebiel relinquished command of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 142, passing the squadron’s colors to Lt. Col. Jeffery A. Baumert during a change of command ceremony here May 6.

In a brief ceremony Sagebiel said good-bye as Baumert took the helm two months into the squadron’s deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sagebiel, who led the Gators to Iraq in the first deployment to combat in 50 years for a reserve fixed wing fighter squadron, took time to praise the Marines for their efforts to keep the squadron in fighting form.  He recognized the Marines for the hard work they have done, resulting in their winning the Chief of Naval Operations safety award three years in a row among other awards.

He emphasized the fact that the Gators are a reserve squadron, thanking everyone both active duty and reserves, for the work they put into getting fully prepared guaranteeing a seamless integration in the wing here.

According to Sagebiel, “When the call came every warrior hit the ground running and within six weeks was trained and ready to deploy.”

After Sagebiel said his farewell, Baumert, who had been the squadron executive officer, took time to address those gathered.

Baumert shared ideas from a book he recently read, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins.  The book shared lessons Collins learned from a study he did in an effort to identify key characteristics that turn good companies into great ones.  One of the key characteristics is getting the right players on the team.

According to Baumert, that is a problem already solved.  “You see the team has already been assembled and already proven themselves.  Through a combination of keen team building on the part of this command, assistance from those who wanted the Gators to succeed, and a bit of luck, we have the right people, the right Marines on the team.”

Recognizing the contribution of his predecessor, Baumert praised the squadron as having proven themselves as a great team, doing what has never been done before as they made preparations and deployed to combat.

“I firmly believe that there is not a commanding officer who would not be thrilled to inherit the team of Marines that make up the Gators of VMFA-142,” said Baumert.

As he closed, Baumert cautioned the squadron against the threat of routine, urging them to not forget their purpose and to find ways to contribute to the ongoing fight here in Iraq.

“To the Marines of VMFA-142 I say this:  As our days here add up, keep in mind what you are here to do.  That whatever it is that you do – it contributes to our ultimate mission: to be prepared at any time to destroy the enemy that threatens our fellow Marines and Soldiers.  To do this you must keep doing what you have done so well and keep alive in each other the spirit of purpose that overcomes the routine.”

- For more information about the Marines reported on in this story, please contact Gunnery Sgt. Shannon Arledge by e-mail at -