Lt. Col. Christian Ward relinquished command of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training to Lt. Col Chris Kinsey at Marine Corps Air Station New River, Friday. After relinquishing command, Ward retired after 27 years of service.

“It was the most rewarding and most challenging thing I’ve done,” said Ward. “The Marines of CNATT and the staff that were there are some of the most professional Marines I’ve ever seen on a flight line. If you’re the CNATT commanding officer you’re blessed with a hundred and thirty five Marines that have already demonstrated an ability to lead that flight line and the Marine fleet units need. Marines take pause from deployments to come back to CNATT to train the future of aviation, and they do it exceptionally well.”

Ward may be retiring from the Marine Corps, but not from aviation. He plans to continue flying as a private jet pilot after completing his transition into the civilian world.

“I’m going to go home and have a beer,” said Ward. “When I finish relaxing, I start my new job flying Beechcraft King Airs. I start that later this summer, and I’m excited to do so.”

With Ward leaving, Kinsey takes command of CNATT and looks forward to leading his new Marines.

“I’m excited, I’m back down here at the ground level to serve with Marines,” said Kinsey. “It’s always great to be around Marines, Marine Aviation and the smell of jet fuel as the Carolina Marine Air Ground Task Force executes their mission.”

Kinsey is coming from Headquarters Marine Corps as part of the commandant of the Marine Corps’ staff. He’s been observing CNATT and has been impressed by the Marines that will be under his command.

“I’ve been onboard for about two weeks and everything seems to be going smoothly,” said Kinsey. “The Marines are engaged and enthusiastic to learn the craft of being a Marine technician. The Marines we’re training and sending to the fleet are the best America has to offer. They’re from small towns and big cities all across our nation and have answered the call to serve.

“They are the ones who will ensure the readiness and safety of flight for aircrafts, so when the President calls on the Marines, in the darkness of night, from miles offshore a coastline anywhere in the world, these Marines will ensure the world’s greatest fighting continues to succeed every time.”