MCAS Beaufort --
Lt. Col. Kristian von Heimburg relinquished command of Marine All-Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224 to Lt. Col. Joshua Pieczonka during a change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Feb. 23.
The ceremony was held in front of the VMFA(AW)-224 hangar at exactly 2:24 p.m. The commanding general of the II Marine Expeditionary Force, Lt. Gen. Robert Hedelund attended with the commanding general of the II Marine Aircraft Wing, Maj. Gen. Matthew Glavy, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 31, Col. Frank Latt, and the commanding officer of MCAS Beaufort, Col. Timothy Miller.
“When I think about the Bengals and what they have accomplished, it’s pretty compelling,” said Latt. “This squadron went to combat and when they arrived they found complex mission sets in a complex environment and they executed famously. It is unbelievable what they accomplished and that doesn’t come without leadership. You did an excellent job with these Marines and I know you will transfer that success to your new unit.”
In August 2016, Pieczonka, reported to MAG-31. He executed the F/A-18 Weapons System Officer refresh period of instruction at VMFAT-101, and served as the Marine Aviation Training System Site Beaufort Operations Officer and acting Officer in Charge until March 26, 2017. Pieczonka, was reassigned to VMFA(AW)-224 to accompany the Bengals on deployment as their executive officer.
“Ladies and Gentleman of the Bengals, I was fortunate enough to serve as your executive officer during your last deployment, now I am honored to serve you as your new commanding officer,” said Pieczonka. “As we move forward as a squadron, we are going to foster trust with one another, promote professionalism in everything we do, and execute our missions swiftly. We will uphold the high standards set by the men and women who wore this patch before us.”
After exchanging the squadron colors, the symbolic transfer of command, von Heimburg was awarded the Bronze Star Medal for his actions aboard the air station and for leading his squadron in support of combat operations.
“Everything we have done as a squadron couldn’t have been accomplished without the help of my Marines,” said von Heimburg. “The day I took command, I spoke about this squadron’s start with the battle of Guadalcanal. 75 years later, on the anniversary of that battle, we flew from a desolate location again supporting 1st Marine Division in direct combat operations. The reason everything went so well was from the hard work done by these Marines. The resolve showed by the Marines 75 years ago was demonstrated again six months ago. There is no doubt the Marines of VMFA(AW)-224 will be fighting battles and winning wars for the next 75 years. This has been an incredible journey. Thank you and Semper Fidelis.”