Just as the fog lifted this morning, a formation of three F/A-18E Super Hornets roared over Naval Air Station Lemoore as the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 97 (VFA-97) conducted a unique, airborne change of command ceremony.
After reading their orders, Cmdr. Colin Day was relieved as commanding officer by Cmdr. Doug Peterson with a symbolic formation lead change, with Capt. Stuart Baker, Commander Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9), presiding over the transfer of leadership.
Day reported to VFA-97 in May 2012 as executive officer before assuming command in August 2013.
During his tour, the Warhawks conducted an eight-month combat deployment, were awarded the Battle “E” award for the eighth time in the command’s history and completed an immensely successful transition from the F/A-18C Hornet to the F/A-18E Super Hornet.
Day, who has accumulated over 3,400 flight hours and more than 850 carrier arrested landings, departs for the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command in Charleston, S.C.
“It has been truly a blessing to serve with the fine Sailors in this command,” Day said. “The command has been through somewhat of a metamorphosis in the past few years. Observing our Sailors execute their mission with such admirable devotion to duty and honorable service has been, for me, absolutely stunning.
"It’s bittersweet to leave the Lemoore community, which has been our home for so many years, but I look forward to the future and to being able to observe the Warhawks achieve greater success in the time to come," he added. "The Sailors in this command are truly excellent Americans. I couldn’t have asked to be on a better team, and I wish them and their families the absolute best.”
Peterson reported to VFA-97 as executive officer in August 2013 after serving as the Strategy Development Branch Head for Strategy Division, Strategy, Plans and Policy Directorate (J-5), US European Command (USEUCOM) in Stuttgart, Germany.
Peterson assumes command after having accumulated more than 2,800 flight hours and over 580 carrier arrested landings. He has served at VFA-97 in two previous tours, deploying with the Warhawks three times.
Peterson looks forward to continuing to work with the exceptional Sailors who encompass Team Warhawk.
“It has been a privilege and an honor to serve with Cmdr. Day. He has led the Warhawks to incredible levels of proficiency, professionalism and accomplishment," Peterson said. "We have earned well-deserved recognition for squadron accomplishments due to his leadership and efforts.
"Cmdr. Day will be fondly remembered for his guidance, mentorship and deep dedication to every member of Team Warhawk," he added. "I personally have enjoyed his friendship and sage counsel, and wish he and his family the best of luck on their next adventure!”
Cmdr. Matt Doyle joins VFA-97 as the squadron’s executive officer after serving as the executive officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 122 (VFA-122). He is a graduate of the United States Navy Test Pilot School and has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours in multiple platforms, including over 2,000 hours in the F/A-18A-D Hornet and F/A-18E-F Super Hornet.
Doyle has also previously served at VFA-97 for a tour, deploying with the Warhawks twice.
From the Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron 97: Congratulations to Peterson, welcome aboard to Doyle, and fair winds and following seas to Day!