Meridian, Miss. Commander Michael G. Hritz who served as squadron commanding officer from March of 2013 thru June of this year will have a new command and a new commander will take his place. Commander William Thames has now taken over as the leader for squadron seven in a special fly-by ceremony, the first ever at NAS Meridian
"It's a lot of fun," said Thames. "It's a lot less formal than the normal ceremony that we have. Both Mike and myself aren't big on ceremony, but we are big on tradition, so we wanted to do a flying change of command because that's what you pay us for."
Commander Thames is taking command of the same squadron where he earned his coveted Wings of Gold in May 1998, before transferring for F/A-18 Training in Lemoore, California. He says it's an honor to come back to the place that means a lot to him.
"It's fantastic, to be back in my home state that I grew up in," said Thames. "My former CO is still in this area and he works here, the guy who winged both Mike and myself. So it's a great opportunity to come back here and train young guys from the place that I'm from and the place that I've been based before."
Under Commander Hritz leadership Squadron seven has recorded over 20,000 flight hours, conducted over a 1,000 carrier landings, and trained 20 new instructor pilots. Commander Thames says he hopes to build on the Squadron that Hritz left him.
"I hope to accomplish much of the same stuff," said Thames. "I hope to prepared young men to go out to the fleet and defend the nation. To get their Naval Wings and prepare to fight for our country."
Commander Hritz's next assignment will be as air boss on the USS Nimitz.