Col. Chris Pappas III relinquishes command after three years
Col. Todd W. Ferry, Cherry Point’s new commanding officer, had more than one reason to celebrate on Thursday.
“My oldest son turns 14 today,” Ferry told those attending a change of command Thursday morning at Cherry Point. “We’ll have a party for him tonight.”
Ferry assumed command from Col. Chris Pappas III during the ceremony on a hot parade field in front of Cherry Point’s headquarters building. Ferry was most recently based in Stuttgart, Germany, as J-5 director of state at the United States Africa Command.
“It is hot here,” Ferry said. “It is not hot like this in Europe.”
Ferry, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, is not unfamiliar with Eastern North Carolina. He came to New River to fly CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters in 1994, his first assignment after he and his wife Sondra were married in Pensacola, Florida.
“In many ways, this was home for us,” he said of the area. “We learned to be Marines, spouses to each other, and father and mother to our kids.”
He thanked those in the community as well as those on the air station that he had met and said he looked forward to meeting others.
“Thank you for allowing me to come into your community,” he told the crowd.
He takes command of the Corps’ only 24-hour air station that covers 29,000 acres, is responsible for 9,000 square miles of air space, hosts the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing and employs about 15,000 Marines, sailors and civilians that produce a $2 billion economic impact to the region annually.
Pappas will next serve as chief of staff for Marine Corps Combat Development Command and as the executive assistant to the deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration in Quantico, Virginia. He had served as Cherry Point’s commanding officer since August of 2013.
Brig. Gen. Thomas D. Weidley, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East at Camp Lejeune, credited Pappas with making changes that increased the efficiency of the air station amid difficult budget times and with leading the base’s environmental efforts aimed at reducing Cherry Point’s consumption of energy.
“What didn’t you do great?” Weidley said of Pappas during his remarks at the ceremony. “This is a commander and a command team that is synonymous with professionalism and synonymous with excellence.”
Weidley presented Pappas with the Legion of Merit during the ceremony for his service as Cherry Point commanding officer.
Pappas thanked his wife and family for their support as well as all the station’s Marines and civilian employees, calling it an “honor and privilege” to serve as the base’s commanding officer.
“It’s not the buildings, the facilities and the real estate that make this place special. That may make it unique, but not special,” he said. “What makes this place special is the people.”
He also thanked those in surrounding communities who support Cherry Point Marines and their mission.
“We just don’t say we have the most military friendly people,” he said. “We know we have the most military friendly people by their actions. … You do it like no other, and it has been my distinct privilege working with each and every one of you throughout the time here, and it’s probably the thing I’m going miss the most is the support we get from the local community.”