Though he may no longer be the commanding officer of Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, Col. John Snider doesn't plan to stray far from Fightertown's gates.
Snider, who assumed command of MCAS Beaufort in 2008, handed the base's battle colors to Col. Brian Murtha on Friday during the change-of-command ceremony, which also doubled as a retirement party.
Snider will retire next week after 27 years in the Corps and stay in the Beaufort area, according to air station officials.
"I didn't plan on being a Marine," Snider said. "I went down and signed up with my best friend because our brother told us to. ...
"So why would a guy who never planned on being a Marine be standing here 27 years later? The people. It's not the fancy jets or anything like that. It's the people you work with."
In letters from Commandant Gen. James Amos and other Corps officials, Snider was praised for leading MCAS Beaufort while the Navy decided to assign three active-duty and two pilot-training F-35B squadrons at the air station. The F-35B will replace the F-18 Hornets now flown at the air station.
Maj. Gen. Carl Jensen, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations East, said Snider will be a tough act to follow.
"You have had an impact here that is going to last for generations," Jensen told Snider during the ceremony.
Murtha, who most recently served as the deputy to the legislative assistant at the Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C., said he is honored to relieve such a well-respected commanding officer.
"There is no better friend you could have and no better leader you could ask for," Murtha said of Snider. "He was always calling and emailing to talk about Beaufort and tell us all of the things we should do when we got down here. I worked in legislative affairs, so I was always screening my calls, but I always took (Snider's) calls."