NORFOLK (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Michael Groothousen, commander, Navy Region Europe/commander, Maritime Air Naples said his final Navy farewell to shipmates, friends and family June 20, aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) at Naval Station Norfolk.
Groothousen served as commanding officer of Truman March 2002 to July 2004. During this time, Truman and the Carrier Air Wing 3 team participated in Operation Iraqi Freedom and won the Jig Dog Ramage Award for best ship or air wing team of the Navy. Truman's crew also swept the Commander Naval Air Force Atlantic Battle "E" competition and earned the Battenburg Cup as the best ship in the Atlantic Fleet during Groothousen's tenure.
Several people attended the ceremony in Truman's hangar bay to honor Groothousen's more than 30 years of honorable naval service.
Capt. (ret.) Charles Nash, one of the event's guest speakers, said Groothousen served the United States and the Navy with dedication and steadfast commitment. He said by doing so, Groothousen made a lasting impression on many people's lives - military and civilian.
"You talk with anyone who's ever served with Mike Groothousen and they'll tell you how awesome it was," said Nash.
During his speech, Nash read a letter to Groothousen from Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"Your leadership and your efforts on behalf of our Navy and our people have really made a difference," Mullen's letter said. "People trusted you because you led them honestly in war and in peace, because you care too much about the mission and our people and our Navy not to speak the truth always and not to find the right way."
In his closing remarks, Groothousen thanked his
shipmates. He said had it not been for help from people who had gone before him and the people worked with him, he would not have had the career he had.
"I will miss the people who make this great Navy perform and their families," Groothousen said.
"Whenever asked why I continued to serve, my answer was the people - smart, dedicated, patriotic, hard working and caring for others and their fellow countrymen like no others."
Groothousen ended his career with a final assignment as joint commander of Navy Region Europe and commander of Maritime Air Naples. He deployed on board three rotational flagships -- USS Ross, USS Monterey, and USS Roosevelt -- September 2006 to August 2007 as commander of Standing NATO Maritime Group(SNMG) 2.
He began his naval career in 1975 after graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy with a degree in Ocean Engineering. He was designated a naval aviator in August of 1976.
Following fleet replacement pilot training in VA-174, in the A-7E Corsair, he made cruises on board USS America (CV 66) and USS Independence (CV 62) with VA-15 before reporting to Commander Training Air Wing Three as a landing signal officer (LSO).
In January 1982, Groothousen reported to Commander, Carrier Air Wing 8 embarked on USS Nimitz (CVN 68) as the air wing's LSO. He then transitioned to flying the F/A-18 Hornet and reported to VFA-106 as one of the initial cadre of Hornet instructor pilots on the east coast. With VFA-132, he deployed to Iwakuni, Japan. During his tour, the squadron earned the "Estocin Award" and became the first Hornet squadron to capture the prestigious "Fox One" Award.
After graduating from the Armed Forces Staff College, he served at the North American Aerospace Defense Command and at U.S. Space Command. He reported as executive officer of VFA-137 during Operation Provide Comfort on board USS Forrestal (CV 59). On September 18, 1992, he assumed command of VFA-137 and carried out the "Kestrels" homeport reassignment from NAS Cecil Field, Fla., to NAS Lemoore, Calif.
Following nuclear power training, he served as executive officer of USS George Washington (CVN 73) from May 1996 to September 1997. During Groothousen's tour, Washington won the coveted Battle "E" Award, each departmental "E" and earned the Golden Anchor Award.
In December 1997, he assumed command of USS Shreveport (LPD 12) in Constanta, Romania. During his tour, Shreveport deployed to the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Persian Gulf, and St. George's Bay followed by a complex drydock availability. Shreveport subsequently completed all readiness assessments and Engineering Certification (ECERT) in record time preceding her award of the 1998 Battle "E" Award.
After his flag promotion, Groothousen served as assistant deputy commandant for Marine Aviation, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps.
His personal awards include the Legion of Merit (five awards), Bronze Star, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Joint Service Commendation Medal and Navy Commendation Medal.
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