The Navy and Marine Corps Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program Office (PMA-263) welcomed a new leader May 23 during a change of command ceremony here.

PMA-263 Program Manager Col. Jim Rector passed the command flag to Col. Eldon Metzger, former Marine assistant to the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development, and Acquisition.

Rector’s next assignment will be with the Defense Contract Management Agency (DCMA) for Bell Helicopter, located in Fort Worth, Texas.

Rector acknowledged each of his teams and leaders, recognized the industry partners for being good teammates and providing quality products and reminded the guests of the diverse services and organizations that make up PMA-263’s customer – the warfighter.

“To the men and women of PMA-263, keep fighting,” Rector said. “Remember, all the instructions were written for manned aviation; challenge it.”

Guest speaker Brig. Gen. Matthew Glavy, assistant Deputy Commandant for Aviation, spoke to the guests about the unique opportunity for  a Marine officer to lead a Navy program office.

“It’s a great day, for the Marine Corps and Marine aviation,” Glavy said. “It’s been a hard, arduous road to get to the point where I can have one Marine program manager give command up to another Marine program manager.”

A Beaver, Pennsylvania native and Penn State University graduate, Metzger received his commission in 1992 and was designated a naval aviator in 1994. He graduated from U.S. Naval Test Pilot School at Pax River in 2001 and was then assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 as the UH-1N Twin Huey platform coordinator. It was there that Metzger introduced a new, forward looking infrared camera to Marine units in Kuwait just prior to Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Metzger served operational tours with Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 269, HMLA-369 and HMLA-367 where he completed two deployments with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit.