MARINE CORPS AIR STATION YUMA, Ariz. -- Lt. Col. Willis E. Price III relieved Lt. Col. Robert D. Deforge as the commanding officer of Marine Attack Squadron-513 during a change of command ceremony Friday morning behind the squadron's hangar.
Price, a North Little Rock, Ark., native, gained command of the squadron after serving with the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force Command Element, Camp Lejeune, N.C., as the MEF air officer and expeditionary operations action officer from July 2001 to January 2005.
Deforge, a native of Plattsburgh, N.Y., assumed the role of VMA-513's commanding officer in July 2003. During his time as the CO, his squadron performed combat operations in Al Asad, Iraq; was active with the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit, where the Marines participated in tsunami relief efforts; and achieved the title of "Attack Squadron of the Year" in 2004.
The Marines in VMA-513 overcame many challenges and performed magnificently, said Deforge. They had to not only deal with returning from a year long deployment, in 2003, but they also had to adapt to the new changes within the squadron when he took over as the CO. He had previously been serving as flight operations officer within the squadron.
Deforge, who will move on to the College of Naval Warfare, Newport, R.I., said he is confident in handing over the responsibilities of a commanding officer to Price.
"I'm leaving the squadron in his very capable hands," said Deforge. "He's got a great background in the community, is well respected, has (military occupational specialty) credibility and was an instructor at (Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron-1), so no problems there."
After Price completed Harrier training in April 1994, he served with squadrons aboard the air station such as VMA-211, VMA-513, and MAWTS-1.
Price also served in Operation Iraqi Freedom with Marine Aircraft Group-13.
Price said his various experiences in the Corps have molded him along the way, preparing him for the position of CO of VMA-513.
"The Marine Corps does a pretty good job of training for leadership," said Price. "Just the time I've spent over the course of my career out here in Yuma at MAG-13 and MAWTS-1 has prepared me."
Price doesn't plan on making any immediate changes to the squadron because of its outstanding performance.
"I'm very impressed with everything I've seen in the squadron," said Price. "I look forward to getting to know everyone and marching toward meeting our objective in providing offensive air support."
"It's a great honor taking over the greatest attack squadron of the year," he added.
Deforge said VMA-513's professional conduct is what he's been most proud of during his time as CO.
"I think I'm most proud of the way they've conducted themselves through not only the good times, but some of the trying times," he explained. "It really shows their spirit, their professionalism and their dedication to some of the things they do."