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VMFA(AW)-533 welcomes new CO

By Sgt. Marcy Sanchez | | March 21, 2013


Marines and sailors gath­ered for Marine All-Weath­er Fighter Attack Squadron 533’s change of command ceremony aboard Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, March 11.

During the ceremony VMFA(AW)-533, also known as the Hawks, bid farewell to Lt. Col. Bran­den G. Bailey as he relin­quished command of the squadron to Lt. Col. Kevin T. O’Rourke.

“I’m honored and hum­bled to have had the oppor­tunity to be their command­ing officer,” said Bailey. “The hawks are ready to go and they will not let you down.”

Under Bailey’s com­mand, the Marines and sailors of VMFA(AW)-533 were awarded the Robert M. Hanson award for their excellence as the best F/A- 18 Hornet squadron in the Marine Corps for 2012,the II Marine Expeditionary Force Chesty Puller Award for professional achieve­ment and superior perfor­mance and the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety award in 2012.

“You grabbed a great squadron and made it bet­ter,” said Col. Michael Ce­derholm, the commanding officer of Marine Aircraft Group 31. “You’ve done a fantastic job, you’re tenure here will go down as one of the greatest training peri­ods in hawks history.”

His primary concern has always been what is right for the young men and women of the squadron and what’s right for the in­stitution, said Cederholm.

Bailey began command of VMFA(AW)-533 in Novem­ber 2011. Bailey held mul­tiple billets during three as­signments to the squadron, serving as squadrons’ lo­gistics officer, pilot training officer, assistant aircraft maintenance officer, air­craft maintenance officer and executive officer.

“I expect great things from [VMFA(AW)-533], job well done,” said Bai­ley, as he addressed the Marines and sailors of the squadron.

As the incoming com­manding officer, O’Rourke will command the squad­ron as they prepare for a deployment later this month.

“I’m stepping into a well-oiled machine and I’m honored and humbled to be here,” said O’Rourke. “We’re going to keep our focus on our mission, our Marines and our families.”

VMFA(AW)-533 is sched­uled to deploy later this month to the Western Pa­cific in support of the Unit Deployment Program to increase forward presence in the area and participate in theater security coopera­tion activities with regional allies.

“The Hawks are the place to be,” said O’Rourke. “They are the finest squad­ron in the MAG and the fin­est squadron in the Marine Corps.”