A new commander took charge of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point during a change of command ceremony in front of Marines, sailors, families, friends and other honored guests here, July 28.
Colonel Todd Ferry assumed command of MCAS Cherry Point from Col. Chris Pappas III on the headquarters parade field.
The change of command ceremony is a tradition that symbolizes the passing of authority from the outgoing commander to the incoming commanding officer. The passing of the unit flag – commonly known as the unit colors – from one to the next represents, to the men and women who serve in that command, the continuity of the commander’s authority.
This transfer of colors from the outgoing commanding officer shows a relinquishment of responsibility, authority and accountability. By accepting the colors, the incoming commanding officer confirms his commitment to the Marines he now serves and takes charge of the expectations given to him by the previous commander.
Ferry, a native of Texas, graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1992 with a B.S. in Systems Engineering. Upon completing further training in Quantico, Va., he was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1994, beginning his career with the “Black Knights” of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 264 at MCAS New River, N.C. in 1995.
Throughout his career Ferry has deployed six times and completed two cycles with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. His deployments consisted of two Mediterranean deployments with the 26th MEU, three Humanitarian Assistance/Disaster Relief missions with Joint Task Force 535, and to Al Taqaddum, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with the “Flying Tigers” of Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 262. This deployment to Iraq was the first combat operations conducted by the “Flying Tigers” since the Vietnam War.
No stranger to command, Ferry previously served as the commanding officer of Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 from 2010 to 2012 at MCAS Camp Pendleton, Calif. During his tenure, the “Knightriders” trained and designated the last CH-46E Helicopter Second Pilot, assisted in the preparation of the final CH-46 MEU deployments, and started the West Coast transition to the MV-22 Osprey.
Prior to accepting command of MCAS Cherry Point, Ferry served as the chief of J-5 Mission Support Division and as the J5 director of staff at United States Africa Command.
Ferry said he and his family are excited to be returning to the area where he and his wife began their Marine Corps journey 22 years ago. “We have been gone awhile, but this still feels like home.”
Referring to Pappas’ accomplishments here and the responsibilities passed on to him by his predecessor, Ferry announced, “I understand that I have a high standard to uphold.”
Pappas served as the commanding officer of MCAS Cherry Point beginning in Aug. 2013. His next duty assignment will be as the chief of staff for Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and as the executive assistant to the deputy commandant for Combat Development Integration.
“Cherry Point is unique in the Marine Corps,” Pappas told the new commander and the crowd during his parting comments. Referring to the airfield, he highlighted Cherry Point’s “24/7” operational status, providing service to the 2d Marine Aircraft Wing 365 days a year, as well as serving as a jump-off point for Marines and equipment heading into other areas of operations around the globe. He also highlighted the unique relationship between the local community and the air station. “There are a lot of places that say they support their bases; here, they really mean it and demonstrate it everyday.”
“My family and I consider ourselves very lucky to have served here. It really has been a tremendous opportunity, both personally and professionally,” said Pappas.