MARINE CORPS AIR STATION BEAUFORT, S.C. --
Colonel Dave Beydler will relinquish command of Marine Aircraft Group 31 to Col. Gregg E. Brinegar during a change-of-command ceremony here today.
Beydler, who was recently selected for promotion to the rank of brigadier general, has been the commanding officer of MAG-31 since May 25, 2006. He will become the commander of Standing Joint Force Headquarters, Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.
“It’s been a great tour for the family and I,” Beydler said. “The only regret that I have is that we are leaving a year early. I look forward to the opportunities ahead, but I'll be leaving Beaufort and the fact of the matter is, I’ll never get orders back to Beaufort, which is kind of disappointing.”
Beydler was no stranger to the Lowcountry, this was his third tour of duty here.
“(My family and I) enjoy Beaufort,” Beydler said. “Beaufort is a nice place. It’s grown a lot – there’s a lot more to do in Beaufort in 2007 than there was in 1984. It’s a nice place to live; it’s a nice place to raise a family - Beaufort is just a nice place.”
Beydler entered the Marine Corps in 1981 after graduating from the United States Naval Academy. Upon completing primary flight training, Beydler earned his Wings of Gold in September 1983.
In 1984, he reported to Fightertown for the first time and joined the Crusaders of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122. Beydler remained with the squadron, as it became the second MAG-31 squadron to transition to the F/A-18 Hornet aircraft.
While a Crusader, he held several billets in both the aircraft maintenance and operations departments. Beydler spent his last two years, of the five years he spent with the squadron, as the squadron weapons and tactics instructor.
In 1993, he returned to MCAS Beaufort and was assigned to the MAG-31 Headquarters as the group weapons and tactics officer. Beydler then joined the Thunderbolts of VMFA-251 as the aircraft maintenance officer in the summer of 1994.
“No one tour prepares a Marine officer to command,” Beydler said. “As the aircraft maintenance officer in VMFA-251, flying combat sorties off the USS America, I learned a great deal about managing resources and leading Marines in a high tempo environment. That was a great learning opportunity, and certainly helped prepare me for the challenges of commanding MAG-31.”
One year later, the squadron deployed on the USS America as a part of Carrier Air Wing One and participated in operations in Bosnia, Herzegovina and Iraq.
“Beaufort is a busy place for MAG-31 Marines,” Beydler explained. “We currently have four of our six squadrons deployed. There will be a weeklong period next month where all six squadrons from MAG-31 will be deployed. That is highly unusual and is indicative of the tempo of operations our units are engaged in. The bottom line is that the squadrons of MAG-31 are ready for combat, anytime, anywhere. As the saying goes - ‘Marines are most ready when the nation is least ready’ and that is certainly the case in MAG-31.”
Throughout his career, Beydler has accumulated more than 3,500 flight hours in tactical jet aircraft with over 3,000 hours in the F/A-18. His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal with three Gold Stars, the Air Medal, the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with Gold Star.
“I appreciate the hard work and personal sacrifice of the Marines and sailors of MAG-31 and the sacrifices made by their families that have allowed us to collectively accomplish our mission while the nation is at war,” Beydler said. “We got it done.”
“I don’t think that there is anything more satisfying than when you look back on it, knowing that you did your part; you contributed when the Nation called, when a lot of Americans don’t have the opportunity to contribute,” Beydler said.
Editor’s Note: Pick up next week’s Jet Stream for more on the new MAG-31 commanding officer.