A Marine officer in charge of a squadron that ferries high-profile personnel and gear in combat zones was removed from command this month under circumstances that remain under investigation.
Lt. Col. Aaron Locher, Marine Transport Squadron Belle Chasse's former commanding officer, was removed from his position Sept. 7, said Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a spokesman for Marine Corps Forces Reserve.
The decision was made by Brig. Gen. Bradley James, commanding general of 4th Marine Air Wing, due to a "loss in confidence of Locher's ability to continue leading" Marines and sailors with the squadron, Hollenbeck added. His relief was first reported by Marine Corps Times.
"Relieving a commander is never an easy decision; however, the commanding general decided this action was in the best interest of the unit and the U.S. Marine Corps," Hollenbeck said.
Locher is one of at least seven Marine commanders relieved this year, most of whom had poor command climate in their units or mistreated "people of different genders," Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Glenn Walters said last week.
The circumstances surrounding Locher's relief are under investigation, Hollenbeck said. No additional details about James' decision were immediately provided.
"The 4th Marine Aircraft Wing is dedicated to supporting the high standards of the service and the nation, especially for those with the increased responsibility of command," he said.
Lt. Col. Andrew Turner, a Bronze Star with Combat "V" device and Purple Heart recipient, is now serving as the transport squadron's commanding officer.
Locher was selected for command of Marine Transport Squadron Belle Chasse in the fall of 2015. He had returned to the Marine Corps as an active reservist in 2011, according to his official bio, after leaving the service to pursue pursue a career as a U.S. Customs and Border Protection air interdiction agent. In that position, Locher was certified in multiple aircraft.
The career aviation officer earned his commission in 1996 and flew combat missions in Iraq while serving with several Huey squadrons.
Members of Marine Transport Squadron Belle Chasse fly the UC-35, a Cessna transport plane, and UC-12W turboprop light passenger and cargo plane.