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Air Station welcomes new CO; bids farewell to Col. Murtha

By Staff Sgt. Terika King | | February 18, 2014

Col. Brian C. Murtha relinquished his duties as commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina, to Col. Peter D. Buck during their change of command ceremony at the new F-35 hangar here, Feb. 13.


Murtha assumed command of MCAS Beaufort in May of 2011. During his time as commander, MCAS Beaufort has taken part in many operations and exercises included Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.


As he began his remarks, Murtha took time to address the Marines who were under his charge.


“Marines, thank you so much for sharing with my family you lives this past three years. I’ve learned a lot from you, and hopefully you learned something from me.”


The ceremony was Murtha’s final, as he retired after the change of command with 30 years of honorable and faithful service.  


Murtha was born in New Martinsville, W.Va, and began his Marine Corps career by graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1984. By March 1984, he was designated a Naval Aviator and went on to receive training on the CH-46 “Sea Knight.” In August of 1987, he was assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotator Squadron 261 for his first fleet tour where he completed two Mediterranean cruises.


During the 90’s Murtha completed Amphibious Warfare School and Marine Corps Command and Staff College in Quantico, Va., and was the commanding officer of Headquarters and Service Company of 2nd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion.


In May 2001, Murtha assumed command of Marine Medium Tiltrotator Squadron 365 and took the “Blue Knights” to combat during Operation Iraqi Freedom. He supported the President of the United States’ summit in Sharm al Shiek, Egypt and was designated the ACE for II Marine   Expeditionary Brigade for the evacuation of the United States embassy in Liberia. From June 2005 to July 2008 served as the special assistant to the Commander of United States Eurpoean Command and Supreme Allied Commander Europe. From there he served as the Deputy Legislative Assistant to the Commandant of the Marine Corps before taking command of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, SC.


Col. Murtha’s personal decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star, two Meritorious Service Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals.


Murtha’s shared a few parting words with the Marines who were under his charge, quoting a passage from the hymn “Eternal Father, Strong to Save.”


“Eternal Father, grant, we pray, To all Marines, both night and day, The courage, honor, strength, and skill, Their land to serve, Thy law fulfill, Be Thou the shield forevermore, From every peril to the Corps.”


“That’s important,” Murtha emphasized. “We’ve been in some far off places and scared ourselves so bad we didn’t want to go back out there. But remember what you do because we make Marines every day, win our nations battles and return quality citizens to our country.”


During the ceremony, the station Marine Corps colors was passed from Col. Murtha to the new commanding officer.


Col. Peter D. Buck was born in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada but he grew up in Milwaukee, Wis. He was commissioned in 1987 and designated a Naval Aviator in July 1989.


As a CH-46E pilot, Buck completed two deployments with the 11th and 15th Marine Expeditionary Units. He completed a tour at the Basic School where he served in several roles including Land Navigation Instructor, Staff Platoon Commander, Executive Officer and Assistant Operations Officer and a Company Commanding Officer.


In 2002, he reported to the Pentagon to serve as Aide de Camp to the Chief of Naval Operations until 2004. From 2005 to 2007 he was the commanding officer of Marine Transport Squadron One. In 2013, Buck assumed duties as the Chief of Staff for the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.


Col. Buck’s personal awards include the Legion of Merit, four Defense Meritorious Service Medals, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal.


Upon taking command of the Air Station, Buck thanked all those in attendance and addressed his new command.


“I look forward to working with all of you,” he said followed by assurances from Major General Robert F. Hedelund, commanding general of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, that the commandant had picked the absolute right Marine to lead the Air Station and build upon what Murtha had achieved.