Change of Command

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Commander Charles Aley said he has great memories of his 15-month post as the head of NAS Meridian's VT-9 training squadron, but it all became the past as he handed over command to Paul Shankland. Aley says he's ready to transition to civilian life.

"We're from Florida, so we're moving home a little closer to family. This is the first time in 20 years we've been able to do that, so we're looking forward to that," said Aley.

Incoming Commander Shankland says he believes that there are very high standards expected of Training Squadron 9. Last December, VT-9 began the transition from the T-2 Buckeye to the T-45 Goshawk, the Navy's oldest and newest planes in the training fleet.

"My expectations are to continue to do an outstanding job that my predecessor, Chuck Aley, started before me," said Shankland.

Commander Aley was presented a gold star and a commendation from President Bush at the ceremony. He got a little choked up while thanking his family for its support.

Then as he saluted Commander Shankland and Capt. Daniel Ouimette, he ended his command of a group he says he was proud to serve.

"I kind of feel like I'm John Elway in the Super Bowl. There can't be anything better than this. So I'm going to go ahead and retire out on top."