Photo Information

Lt. Col. Peter McArdle, Marine All Weather Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA(AW)224) commanding officer, prepares for his last flight with VMFA(AW)-224 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC, May 1, 2013. Lt. Col. McArdle relinquished his command to Lt. Col. Raymond Ayres, III on May 2, 2013. (Official Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Donald Holbert)

Photo by Lance Cpl. Donald Holbert

Bengals bid farewell to commanding officer

9 May 2013 | Cpl. Brady Wood

Marines and sailors gathered for Marine All- Weather Fighter Attack Squadron 224’s change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, May 2.

During the ceremony, VMFA(AW)-224, also known as the Bengals bid farewell to Lt. Col. Peter McArdle as he relinquished command of the squadron to Lt. Col. Raymond Ayres III.

"Every day it is humbling to be able to come in and be a part of something that is bigger than you," said McArdle. "It is incredibly rewarding to be part of the machine that gets the mission accomplished and to provide support to the Marines and their families."

Under McArdle’s command, the Marines and sailors of VMFA(AW)-224 have completed several deployment training exercises that took place accross the nation. During one of these exercises they dropped 500,000 pounds of ordnance while supporting the Weapons and Tactics Instructor course.

McArdle took command of VMFA(AW)-224 in March 2011. Since then, the Bengals have met every mission they have been tasked with while maintaining flight hours and a high combat readiness rating for the 13 months.

"I am going to miss being part of a squadron," said McArdle. "Just being surrounded by a close-knit group of Marines is what I’m going to miss the most."

The true challenge of being in command is that you are responsible and accountable for everything and when that is the case you have to surround yourself with people that you trust will get the mission accomplished, said McArdle.

As the incoming commanding officer, Ayres will command the squadron as they prepare for future deployments and training exercises.

"I’m very excited to take command," said Ayres, a native of Quantico, Va. "I’m looking forward to getting to know the squadron and continuing to uphold the legacy of the Bengals."

McArdle was able to take the squadron from a down period and brought it up to the pinnacle of readiness, said Ayres.

"It’s up to me to try to maintain that level of readiness," said Ayres. "There are a lot of people that will be moving soon and the challenge will be to get new Marines trained and ready to deploy."