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The “Warbucks” of Training Squadron (VT) 4 SAU held a change-of-command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, March 5.
Cmdr. Melissa “FASM” Dillard relieved Cmdr. Sara “SUMAT” Taylor as commanding officer during a ceremony held at the National Naval Aviation Museum on base.
VT-4 is the Navy’s only advanced naval flight officer training squadron that prepares student naval flight officers for follow-on training in the E-2 Hawkeye, E-6 Mercury, EP-3 Aries, and P-8 Poseidon aircraft communities. VT-4 is Chief of Naval Air Training’s only squadron that includes no aircraft and instead uses state-of-the-art multi-crew simulators that combine fleet-derived sensors with realistic adversarial problems sets to develop highly skilled naval flight officers.
Taylor, a native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, assumed command of VT-4 SAU in November of 2018. During her tenure, Taylor oversaw a cadre of around 7 instructors dedicated to training Navy and International aviators. More than 300 naval flight officers received their Wings of Gold under her leadership.
“It’s been my honor serve as the commanding officer of the VT-4 SAU,” Taylor said. “I am blessed. I take incredible experience and memories with me to U.S. 3rd Fleet. Cmdr. Dillard is the right officer to lead this incredible Reserve squadron.”
Commodore, Training Air Wing 6 Capt. Scott “Mongo” Janik presided over the small ceremony.
“Cmdr. Sara Taylor did a fantastic job as the commanding officer of the VT-4 Squadron Augment Unit (SAU),” Janik said. “Leading with the dynamics you faced was challenging and you faced and met every one of those challenges. VT-4 could not have achieved its goals without your efforts. Your leadership was key in ensuring our NFO fleet seats were met. Welcome to command Cmdr. Melissa Dillard, I look forward to working with you in your role as skipper of the SAU.”
Taylor, a graduate of the University of Arizona, received her Wings of Gold in 2002. She served with various fleet squadrons including the “Fighting Swordsmen” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 32 and the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106. From 2003 to 2006, she deployed to the Arabian Gulf aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In 2009, Taylor transferred to the U.S. Naval Reserve and was assigned to Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Maritime Operations Unit in Point Loma, California. Following her tour at VT-4, Taylor will take command of the Navy Reserve Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet Nale Det. in Las Vegas.
Dillard, a native of Galloway, New Jersey, and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, earned her Wings of Gold in 2005. She then served with the “Fighting Checkmates” of VFA-211 and deployed aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in direct support of operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. In 2011, she joined the Naval Reserve as part of VT-86 SAU. Dillard has accumulated more than 2,000 flight hours in the F/A-18 Hornet, T-1 Jayhawk and T-39 Sabreliner.
Lt. Michelle Tucker
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Chief of Naval Air Training
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