PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The “Sabrehawks” of Training Squadron (VT) 86 held a change-of-command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Nov. 14.
Cmdr. Eric “Cheese” Reeves relieved Cmdr. Joshua “WITS” Fuller as commanding officer during the ceremony held in VT-86’s hangar.
Fuller, a native of Orlando, assumed command of VT-86 in June 2018 after serving as executive officer since April 2017. During his tenure, Fuller oversaw a cadre of around 60 instructors dedicated to training Navy and Marine Corps, and international military naval flight officers (NFO). More than 224 NFOs received their Wings of Gold under his leadership, together accumulating more than 19,000 hours in T-45C Goshawk jet trainer aircraft. He also facilitated the integration of live, virtual, and constructive training capabilities with simulator assets while successfully advocating for the acquisition of the first T-45C simulator at the base.
“This was by far the most rewarding tour of my career,” Fuller said. “As I make my final approach toward the end of my career I am honored to have helped shape the future of Naval Aviation and that’s something I will treasure. The Navy’s mission success depends on the exceptional men and women among its ranks and there are none greater than the Sabrehawks I served alongside here.”
Commodore, Training Air Wing 6 Capt. Scott “Mongo” Janik presided over the ceremony, attended by staff, family members, and guests.
“Having the right leadership here is critical,” Janik said. “Cmdr. Fuller brought a real sense of family to the squadron, and that can make a difference between a good tour and a great tour. A consummate professional, I could always trust him to make the right decisions for the good of the mission.”
After the ground-based ceremony, Fuller, Reeves, and Janik took to the air in T-45C Goshawks. During the flight, Reeves’ aircraft took lead of the formation, signifying the transfer of leadership.
Fuller, a graduate of The First Academy and Samford University, earned his Wings of Gold in December 2001. He served with various fleet squadrons including the “Lancers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131, the “Eagles” of Strike Fighter Squadron 122, and stood up the Growler wing of VAQ-129. He reported to Carrier Air Wing 3 in 2010, where he deployed as the electronic warfare officer. After a tour at the Naval War College, Fuller reported to the Joint Staff where he oversaw war planning for the U.S. Pacific Command and U.S Northern Command areas of responsibility. Over the course of his career, Fuller has accumulated more than 2,100 flight hours and 360 arrested landings. He will report to Naval Aviation Schools Command.
Reeves is a native of Baldwinsville, New York. A Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute graduate, he earned his commission through the Navy ROTC program. He earned his Wings of Gold in 2003 as a naval flight officer. He has accumulated more than 2,300 flight hours and 400 arrested landings in the S-3 Viking, EA-6B Prowler, and EA-18G Growler.
Cmdr. George “COB” Zintak, a native of Chicago, will assume the role of executive officer. Zintak, a prior enlisted chief petty officer, earned his Wings of Gold in 2005 as a naval flight officer. He has accumulated more than 2,500 flight hours and 700 arrested landings in the F/A-18F Super Hornet.
VT-86, located at NAS Pensacola, trains the world’s finest combat-quality naval flight officers, committed to global security and prosperity, and projecting naval air power worldwide. Graduates complete follow-on training with fleet replacement squadrons to prepare them for future fleet aircraft including the F/A-18 Hornet/Super Hornet and E/A-18G Growler.
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