Lt. Col. James Derrick took command of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263 from Lt. Col. Jeffrey Cabana during a change of command ceremony held on Marine Corps Air Station New River, May 11.
During Cabana’s command the squadron deployed as part of Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force-Crisis Response Africa. The squadron also conducted the first no notice deployment of aircraft from Spain to Uganda.
“We launched the first ever no notice alert of four [MV-22B Osprey] and three [C-130 Hercules] from Moron, Spain to Entebbe, Uganda in less than 96 hours,” said Cabana.
Cabana was excited to join the unit in May 2015 because of the nature of the unit. Being able to work with Marines of all walks of life was appealing to him.
“I wanted to go assault support because I wanted to work with Marines. I wanted to be able to work with aviation Marines and fly, and I wanted to be able to work with ground force Marines as well,” said Cabana. “Each and every day is a reward. Coming in and getting to see the sometimes smiling, sometimes not smiling, but always working hard faces of the Marines of VMM-263 has been a high point of my career.”
During the ceremony, Cabana passed the unit colors on to Derrick to represent the passing of authority and accountability for the unit, officially relinquishing command of VMM-263 to Derrick.
“It is my esteemed honor and privilege to be able to call myself a former commander of VMM-263. It was probably the high point of my Marine Corps career,” said Cabana. “I know that the squadron is in good hands with [Derrick.] [The squadron] will be missed but it will always be a very successful chapter of my life and one that I will cherish for the rest of my life.”
Derrick was previously the International Plans and Policies Action officer for the Aviation Department at Headquarters Marine Corps.
“I’m privileged to take command of the squadron that [Cabana] built and did a phenomenal job of putting together. He really has a top-notch crew out here,” said Derrick. “He really set me up for success.”
Derrick wants to continue the work done in Cabana’s command while continuing the basic mission of Marine Corps aviation.
“We’re going to come here. We’re going to fix and fly planes and support the [ground combat element] and the [logistics combat element] and do what we’re supposed to do as a flying squadron,” said Derrick.
As the new commanding officer, Derrick plans to continue striving for the excellence that Cabana set as a standard for the unit.
“I am thrilled [to be taking command of VMM-263.] I could not be more honored,” said Derrick. “In many ways I don’t feel I’m worthy of this honor but I am just thrilled to be here and looking forward to getting to know everybody.”