NAVAL AIR STATION PATUXENT RIVER, Md.– The U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276) held a change of command ceremony on March 25 at Patuxent River, Maryland. 

Marine Lt. Gen. Mark R. Wise, deputy commandant for aviation, presided over the ceremony where Col. Vasilios Pappas relieved Col. David Walsh.

“This platform is not just key to what we have done over the last several decades, as we have migrated to the four bladed Huey and Cobra, but it is important to where we are going in the future,” said Wise. “That capability is necessary; we are going to have a lot of Marines in a widely distributed environment, making things happen and to make them capable, you have to have the best out there with them and that is what this [H-1 platform] represents.”

Col. David C. Walsh, left, transfers leadership of the U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276) to Col. Vasilios E. Pappas, right, during a change of command ceremony Mar. 25 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Credit: Joy Shrum / U.S. Navy

During his four-year tenure, Walsh was responsible for $5.1 billion in foreign military and domestic funding, supporting aircraft procurement, operations and maintenance, research, development, test, and evaluation. The program delivered 113 domestic aircraft on schedule and below cost. He also oversaw foreign military sales (FMS) of 16 AH-1Z Vipers and eight UH-1Y Venoms to Bahrain and the Czech Republic.

Additionally, Walsh established fleet support teams at each of the Marine Aircraft Groups across the country to assist in addressing critical maintenance issues that were negatively affecting fleet readiness. As a result, the H-1 fleet maintained the highest readiness in the Marine Corps inventory.

He was also responsible for the successful stand up of the sustainment program baseline, a pilot program now emulated across other aircraft programs. The program sets operational readiness requirements that will serve as the basis for sustainment of the H-1 aircraft for the life of the program.

“I am incredibly proud of what this team has done and accomplished over the past four years,” Walsh said. “But what I’m most proud of is the people and the H-1 team; people make the program.”

Walsh will report to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition (ASN (RDA)) as the military assistant.

Col. Vasilios E. Pappas, left, and Col. David C. Walsh, right, following the transfer of leadership of the U.S. Marine Corps H-1 Light/Attack Helicopters program office (PMA-276) during a change of command ceremony Mar. 25 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Credit: Joy Shrum / U.S. Navy

Pappas began his career flying the UH-1N, and subsequently transitioned to the UH-1Y. After multiple deployments, he reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 as an H-1 engineering test pilot. He then served in multiple program offices, including PMA-276, the H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopters program office (PMA-261), and the V-22 Joint program office (PMA-275).

Pappas is also a graduate of the Marines’ Top Level School and participated in the Secretary of Defense Corporate Fellowship Program where he was assigned to EMC Corporation from June 2015 to June 2016. Most recently, Pappas served as the military assistant to ASN (RDA).

“Just in the last four years, your accomplishments are many – from delivering the last UH-1Ys to the fleet, awarding the last lots of the AH-1Z for the Marine Corps, awarding the Bahrain and Czech Republic FMS cases, maintaining the lowest cost per flight hour in the Marine Corps, establishing depot level repair capability, and many, many more,” said Pappas. “I look forward to joining you in the execution of acquisition excellence for the attack/utility team and adding to that long list.”

PMA-276 manages the cradle to grave procurement, development, support, fielding and disposal of the Marine Corps rotary wing close air support, anti-armor, armed escort, armed/visual reconnaissance and fire support program systems.

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