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Lt. Col. William Pacatte, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico, and Col. Gaines Ward, MCAF commanding officer during the period of the citation, affix a Meritorious Unit Commendation streamer to the unit's colors at a ceremony in the MCAF hangar Feb. 11.

Photo by Adele Uphaus-Conner

Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico receives Meritorious Unit Commendation

25 Feb 2016 | Adele Uphaus-Conner Marine Corps Base Quantico

“This award is for all the late nights, early mornings, and all the weekends and holidays you had pulled out from under you,” Lt. Col. William Pacatte, commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico told Marines, sailors and civilians gathered in the MCAF hangar.

MCAF received a Meritorious Unit Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy and Commandant of the Marine Corps for the period of Nov. 1, 2011 through Nov. 30, 2012. At a ceremony on Feb. 11, Pacatte and Col. Gaines Ward, MCAF commanding officer during the period of commendation, attached a streamer denoting the award to the unit’s colors. In addition to the official citation and streamer, Pacatte said the unit will be able to update its Lineage and Honor certificates.

MCAF was cited for “sustained, unmatched services…ensuring the success and mission accomplishment of Marine Helicopter Squadron One as it sustained over 1,100 Presidential Airlift Support Missions worldwide.” The citation also notes that the unit supported 25,000 aircraft operations during the award period and that “services [were] provided for over 290 hours of operation outside of normal field hours.”

Also during the award period, MCAF began preparing for the arrival of the MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft and made improvements to its Security Emergency Action Plan and Motorcycle Risk Analysis System.

“By their truly distinctive accomplishments, unrelenting determination, and unfailing devotion to duty, the Marines, Sailors, and Civilian Marines of Marine Corps Air Facility Quantico reflected credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service,” the citation concludes.

Addressing attendees at the ceremony, which was attended by Maj. Gen. Charles Hudson, commander of Marine Corps Installations Command and assistant deputy commandant for installation and logistics, Pacatte said that 89 percent of MCAF’s ranks have changed since the award period.

“Only 18 Marines from that time are still here,” he said. “But what they did was establish a legacy of excellence that perpetuates.”

Pacatte said that this is the third time MCAF has received a Meritorious Unit Commendation since 1918.

“That’s kind of a big deal, because we’re not an operating force unit,” he said. “So it’s not as easy to get recognized.”

Ward, who is now with Manpower Policy, said that he was “very excited” to see MCAF get recognized for its achievements.

“That was a busy time,” he said of the award period, during which he commanded MCAF. “But the level of excellence is the same now. The bar has not been lowered. It remains the same. Day in and day out, these guys are doing it.”

In his address to the audience, Pacatte said he charged every Marine, sailor, and civilian at MCAF to master the unit’s legacy of excellence.

“I’m 100 percent sure that if we do that, we can write our own page in history,” he said. “You all have my utmost respect.”

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