VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia (NNS) -- Cmdr. William M. Mathis was relieved by Cmdr. Juston R. Kuch during a Strike Fighter Squadron 34 (VFA-34) “Blue Blasters” change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana Nov. 15.
With the traditional exchange of salutes, Kuch relieved Mathis and assumed all duties and responsibilities as the commanding officer of VFA-34 in a ceremony attended by distinguished visitors, family and VFA-34 crew.
Mathis expressed his appreciation for his squadron during his tenure at VFA-34.
“I absolutely loved being the commanding officer for VFA-34 and will miss this job. Being part of this fantastic team has been the highest privilege of my professional life,” Mathis said. “Blasters take care of our people. Blasters take care of our jets, and Blasters take care of our command. I am forever grateful for the opportunity.”
Mathis also received the Meritorious Service Medal for sustained superior performance while serving as commanding officer of VFA-34.
Mathis inspired VFA-34 with a unified vison that helped members meet and surpass all mission requirements during an arduous Fleet Readiness Training work-up cycle, six cross-country movements of 10 F/A-18C aircraft, and a Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) deployment, directly contributing to the mission success of Carrier Strike Group One (CSG-1) and Carrier Air Wing Two (CVW-2).
Under Mathis’s exceptional leadership VFA-34 were awarded the 2018 CNAF Battle “E” and 2018 CNO Safety “S” Award.
Kuch expressed his appreciation for Mathis for guiding the squadron to the highest levels of operational excellence and allowing the Blue Blasters to perform tremendously in every aspect.
“His exceptional dedication and commitment to the mission of Strike Fighter Squadron 34, CVW-2, CVW-8, and the United States Navy represents the absolute best of the armed services,” said Kuch. “I look forward to carrying on his vision for VFA-34.”