News: VMM-266 welcomes new commanding officer
Story by Cpl. John Suleski
NEW RIVER, N.C. - Lt. Col. Christopher J. Boniface relinquished command of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 to Lt. Col. Kirk B. Nelson during a change of command ceremony at the squadron’s hangar, Dec. 6.
In the presence of many friends, peers and family members, Boniface passed the squadron colors to Nelson, signifying the passage of the many responsibilities that come from leading a squadron.
“The things that we ask these days of a squadron commander are significantly higher, more complex and more difficult than when I was a squadron commander,” Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hedelund, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW). “It takes a special leadership team to pull that off.”
During the ceremony, Boniface received the Meritorious Service Medal for his outstanding leadership as the commanding officer of VMM-266.
He led the squadron to perform well in many duties including Exercise Bold Alligator, the first large-scale amphibious exercise in the Marine Corps in more than a decade.
“This aircraft is the real deal and it’s because of the Marines standing behind me,” said the former commanding officer in a speech to Nelson and others in attendance. “They are absolutely fantastic and I would not be standing here today if it had not been for all these young Marines out there. When it’s all said and done, these are the guys that need to take credit.”
Before taking command of VMM-266, Nelson had served with various CH-46E Sea Knight and Osprey squadrons, with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan. He also served as the Marine Aircraft Group (MAG) 26 executive officer.
His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.
Nelson thanked his friends and family members, and attributed the success of his Marine Corps career to their support.
At the end of the ceremony, the current and former squadron commanding officers, including retired Col. Christopher C. Seymour, stood at attention for the squadron’s pass in review.
“I’m truly humbled to be able to become part of such a great squadron and a great history and I look forward to it,” said Nelson.