Lt. Col. Kevin F. Murray received command of Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron 1 from Lt. Col. John B. Barranco June 14, 2012 during a change of command ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field. Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms, Calif. — “I’m extremely excited to take charge of this squadron,” said Murray. “It is a dream of mine to take command of a squadron, and the ‘Watchdogs’ are the most phenomenal squadron. “They are the tip of the spear when it comes to the new technology. Being kind a computer geek, that’s right up my alley,” he added.
Murray has more than 2,800 hours of flight experience in various aerial vehicles, holds a number of awards for combat and leadership, and has spent the past year as VMU-1’s executive officer.
Murray has known Barranco for the past 20 years, making working together the past year a memorable experience.
“We went to the Naval Academy together,” Barranco said. “There is no officer I hold in higher esteem than Lt. Col. Murray.”
As usual in change of command ceremonies, VMU-1 Marines marched to the center of the field. The “Watchdogs” looked onward as Barranco handed Murray the Marine Corps flag, symbolizing the transfer of leadership from one commanding officer to the next.
After the ceremony, Barranco was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his achievements while serving as commander of VMU-1.
During Barranco’s command, VMU-1 integrated the Link 16 network, combat testing and evaluation of Cargo Resupply Unmanned Aerial System, laser designation for laser-guided weapons from the RQ-7B Shadow, integration for the Fire Fly Signals Intelligence payload and as the first VMU to deploy to demilitarized zone in Korea.
“Working with such great people makes it hard to leave,” Barranco said, who will be attending the Top Level School in Washington D.C. this summer. “One of the things that makes it bearable is knowing that I’m leaving everyone in good hands.”