MILTON, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Whiting Field welcomed their new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony on base, Nov. 10.
With an exchange of salutes to Rear Adm. John Scorby, commander, Navy Region Southeast, Capt. Pete Hall turned the reins over to Capt. Matthew Coughlin, making him the 39th base commander.
"Ladies and gentlemen..... I am absolutely humbled to be standing here today. And I emphasize the word, humbled. It was 22 years ago when a young kid by the name of Ensign Coughlin drove through the front gate of Whiting Field for the very first time," Coughlin said.
"At the time, I had a bit of anxiety on what was about to transpire over the coming year of flight school. Yet at the same time, I was truly eager to do something so few in this great country have the opportunity to accomplish. It was tough. It was challenging. But to this day, I have only the fondest memories of my time here at Whiting."
Coughlin's assignments include shipboard deployments, tours at the Pentagon, a squadron command, and advanced training at the Naval Post Graduate School and the National Defense University.
Scorby, Coughlin's commanding officer, emphasized the new commanding officer's experience while explaining that he was hand-picked for the post.
"What is meant by this is that for every great leader, there is another one standing in the wings ready to take over, and Captain Matt Coughlin is that leader. You don't get this job by seniority but by a proven record of excellence. If you read Matt's bio, it is clear that he has been given the toughest assignments and performed brilliantly in all of them. So I know that he is more than ready to continue Whiting Field's record of excellence," Scorby said.
NAS Whiting Field is the Navy's busiest air station, and despite an impressive list of accomplishments, Hall is quick to deflect praise to his staff and crew.
"Men and women, Sailors, and civilians of NAS Whiting Field, I have watched and witnessed the long hours and extra days you have put in. You make all that we do here possible," he said. "I have never been disappointed by this group of professionals. Your expertise at your job, your volunteerism, dedication to your country and desire to excel left me daily shaking my head at what you do every day. I am in awe of you, I am proud of you, and I will miss you. Take good care of your new skipper."
During his tour, Naval Air Station Whiting Field maintained operations at a peak level, with 15 percent of the Navy's and Marine Corps' flight hours flown at the base or one of its 13 outlying fields.
Furthermore, the base supported the safe execution of 320,000 aircraft flight hours, and 3.5 million flight evolutions, as well as classroom and simulator training for 3600 student naval aviators. While keeping his sight on the needs of his Sailors and the needs of the Navy, Hall also supported an increase in Training Air Wing (TRAWING) 5's flight requirements without an increase to the budget or personnel. This flexibility enabled TRAWING-5 to successfully return to schedule and pilot production months ahead of the anticipated time.
For his leadership, Hall was presented with the Legion of Merit. His next assignment will be in the Pentagon, working in the Navy's Electronic Warfare/Cyber Warfare department.
For more news from Naval Air Station Whiting Field, visit www.navy.mil/local/naswf/.