Attack squadron changes commanders, moniker
Published Sat, Jan 5, 2008 12:00 AM

The Marines of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 at Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort will brandish a new moniker and a new commander when they make their first combat deployment this fall since the Vietnam War.

Lt. Col. William Liebleinrelinquished his 18-month command of VMFA-122on Friday to Lt. Col. Douglas Douds.

All units at the air station rotate commanding officers every 18 months. Lieblein will join the air station's Marine Aircraft Group 31 as a safety officer under Commanding Officer Col. Gregg Brinegar.

Along with control of the 180 Marines and sailors formerly under his command, Lieblein surrendered the squadron's nickname of the "Crusaders," which they have held since 1959, in anticipation of the squadron's deployment to Iraq in September.

The squadron will return to its World War II-era nickname, the "Werewolves."

"The notion of being a crusader in that part of the world doesn't float," Lieblein said.

Lieblein joined the Marine Corps in August 1989, and came to Beaufort in 1993, serving with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 451 until 1999. He served as an instructor pilot at Marine Air Wing Training Squadron 1 in Yuma, Ariz., until returning to the air station and VMFA-122 in July 2003 as an aircraft maintenance officer.

As he thanked family and friends in his goodbye speech to the squadron, Lieblein lauded his Marines' efforts over the past 18 months.

"They're overworked and underpaid, but they're constant professionals," he said. "They always do it right, no matter how hard it is."

Douds joined the Marine Corps in 1991, arriving at MCAS Beaufort in 1995 with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312. He joined VMFA-122 in February 2001, but left in 2004 to become aide-de-camp to the deputy commandant of aviation. In August, he came back to Beaufort and the MAG-31 unit to await his commanding officer spot with VMFA-122.

Douds reminded the squadron's Marines that they'll need to increase their training intensity to prepare for their upcoming combat deployment, the unit's first since 1968.

He also told them that they should be honored to carry on the memory of VMFA-122's past Marines, who were organized in 1942 at Camp Kearny, Calif.

"The battles, names and locations have changed, but not our Marines," he said. "America needs an Army, America needs a Navy and America needs an Air Force, but it wants a Marine Corps. I thank God that we have this opportunity in this time and place. It's a beautiful day to be a Werewolf."
Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122 was commissioned March 1, 1942, at Camp Kearny, Calif. Originally the "Candystripers," the squadron quickly adopted the "Werewolves" moniker before embarking on its first combat tour in October 1942 to Guadalcanal. Following World War II, VMFA-122 became the first Marine squadron to fly jet-propelled aircraft. This eventually led to the Marines' first aerial demonstration team, the "Flying Leathernecks," in 1947. VMFA-122 relocated to Beaufort in September 1957.