MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
Lt. Col. Howard Eyth relinquished command of Marine Wing Support Squadron 171 to Lt. Col. James Whiteker during a change-of-command ceremony at Hangar 6030 aboard Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, June 9, 2014.
Eyth described his time in Iwakuni as “honorable.” He accredited this feeling to the Marines in his squadron.
“Without a doubt, Iwakuni has been the highlight of my career,” said Eyth. “This duty station has been nothing short of phenomenal. Working and serving along with and for the Marines of MWSS-171, there’s no greater honor for a commanding officer. Our Marines and sailors can expect great things from Lieutenant Colonel Whiteker. He’s an outstanding officer with a background in training and preparing Marines for combat.”
Whiteker came to Iwakuni in 2008 to report as the commanding officer of Combat Logistic Company 36. His tour involved numerous exercises throughout Southeast Asia. In 2010, Whiteker reported to Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in 29 Palms, Calif., as the team leader for the Logistics Training Team, Tactical Training Exercise Control Group, and was responsible for the execution of more than 26 Enhanced Mojave Vipers and Integrated Training Exercises.
Having prior experience in Iwakuni as a commanding officer, Whiteker expressed his feelings about taking command of MWSS-171.
“I want to be the best guy I can be for the Marines and sailors of the squadron,” said Whiteker. “They deserve that guy that can give them a hug or a kick in the pants, if that’s what they need. I will set them up for success, enable them to do their job and achieve their goals.”
To be the commanding officer his squadron deserves, Whiteker said he plans to continue where Eyth left off.
“Now that Eyth is leaving, I’ve got big shoes to fill,” said Whiteker. “He’s done a fantastic job of getting the squadron from deploying a little to deploying a lot. Going out and learning their trade in different environments, doing theater engagements and meeting our allies is something I want to continue to build upon.”
As Eyth departed the hangar, he spoke his final words about the squadron.
“I will never forget what we’ve been through, what we built and I will remember the Marines with the fondest of memories,” said Eyth.