New commander takes over Marines’ MAG-49 Det A

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
Lt. Col. Philip Eilertson assumed command of Marine Aircraft Group 49 Detachment A during a change of command ceremony Monday.

Following a return from deployment in Afghanistan, Eilertson, an AH-1W Super Cobra pilot, was assigned to MAG-49 Det A, to prepare as the site's incoming commander, arriving at Robins in early February.

Eilertson graduated from The Basic School in 1997, becoming winged as a Naval aviator in 1999. He flew combat missions in Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, was an AH-1W instructor pilot, and served with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 369 and HMLA-167. He has received the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Strike/Flight Numeral 17, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal with two gold stars, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal with gold star.

Col. Robert Tobin, Marine Aircraft Group 49 commander and ceremony presiding officer, said the time-honored tradition of the change of command is an opportunity for the rededication to what's important. Tobin also praised Eilertson's reputation and noted that he was taking command of a great Marine unit.

Admitting that he was a bit nervous at the outset, Eilertson said he believes any good leader going into a new position should feel that way.

"But I'm excited to lead, learn and mentor the Marines and Sailors here at this unit," he said.

Relinquishing command, Lt. Col. David Steele, reflected on how fast his two years have passed.

"It was a privilege to serve these Marines," he said. "The squadron will be in great hands under Lt. Col. Eilertson. I'm excited to see the direction this squadron is headed."

Steele and his family will be headed to Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama, where he will attend Air War College.

The Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron-773, the Marine Corps Reserves' only attack helicopter squadron, is also located at Robins. The other two sister units are in Louisiana and New Jersey. HMLA-773 falls under the command of MAG-49 Det A, which is part of the 4th Marine Aircraft Wing.

Both units relocated to Robins in July 2010 from Dobbins Air Reserve Base in Marietta.