USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, At Sea (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Michael Vitale relieved Rear Adm. James Winnefeld Jr. as commander, Carrier Strike Group 2/commander, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Carrier Strike Group June 7 in a Change of Command ceremony held in Hangar Bay 2.
"I love to be at sea, and what better place to do a change of command than on the deck of an aircraft carrier, and Theodore Roosevelt is the best," said Winnefeld.
Winnefeld stepped down after more than two years and reflected back on what TR and her embarked air wing family accomplished.
"You each have a difficult job, and you perform at the pinnacle of your expertise," said Winnefeld, addressing those in charge of each department. "You all have trained well together, worked well together and fought well together, and I thank you for all of it. As you trained, worked, fought and sacrificed together, you became a family, and I feel we have a real family here."
After Winnefeld read his orders to become Director of Joint Experimentation at Joint Forces Command in Suffolk, Va., Vitale read his orders, exchanged salutes and took the reins.
"What a great honor to take command of what I will obviously call the greatest carrier strike group in the history of mankind," said Vitale. "I am awed by your accomplishments and will continue to raise the bar."
Vitale's initial assignment was aboard USS Reeves (CG 24), a guided-missile cruiser homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There, he served as Damage Control Assistant and Fire Control Officer. Next he reported to Navy Recruiting District Indianapolis in January 1982, where he served as an officer recruiter, and then as a trainer on the Navy Mobile Recruiting Team located in Orlando, Fla.
Upon completion of Department Head School in October 1984, Vitale was assigned as the Combat Systems Officer (CSO) on board USS Comte De Grasse (DDG 974) with a follow-on tour as CSO on board USS Bainbridge (CGN 25).
Vitale graduated from the Naval Postgraduate School with a Master of Arts Degree in National Security Affairs (Strategic Planning) in December 1989. His follow-on assignment was as the executive officer on board USS Yorktown (CG 48), an Aegis guided-missile cruiser homeported in Norfolk, Va.
In 1992, Vitale reported to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, serving in the Directorate for Plans and Interoperability until July 1994, when he subsequently attended the National War College in Washington, D.C., earning a Master of Science Degree in National Security Strategy.
He commanded USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, from April 1996 until December 1997. He served as the Director of the Command Training Department at Surface Warfare Officers School in Newport, R.I., from January 1998 to August 1999 and then commanded Destroyer Squadron 24 in Mayport, Fla., until March 2001, as the Chief of Staff for Carrier Group 4 in Norfolk, Va.
Vitale was nominated in March 2004 for appointment to the rank of rear admiral after completing his assignment as the Director of Navy Senate Liaison to the Office of Legislative Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Vitale still holds his position as Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and will be relieved in July, and said he looks forward to leading CSG2/TRCSG.
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