NAS LEMOORE (December 12, 2019) – VFA-97 Warhawks welcomed a new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony, Thursday, December 12, 2019.
CDR Michael Patterson, from Philadelphia, PA relieved CDR Jeremy Bauer from Denver, CO, during the ceremony held at NAS Lemoore. CDR Bauer assumed command September 2018 and led VFA-97 during Operations INHAENT RESOLVE, DELIBERATIVE RESOLVE and FREEDOM’S SENTINAL. Under his leadership, VFA-97 flew 686 hours and employed, 32,500 lbs of ordinance in support of combat operations in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
“I remain humbled to have served as the Commanding Officer of VFA-97 for the last 15 months. It was an incredible experience to take the squadron on an around-the-world cruise that included combat operations over Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. The Warhawk team really pulled together like a family over the course of the seven month cruise and set the gold standard for excellence by any Navy unit. When friendly forces on the ground called for support, the Warhawks put fuzed ordnance on target, on time, every time.”
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CDR Bauer continues to say, “After we returned from cruise, that teamwork didn’t falter. My Sailors moved the entire squadron for a second time in a month, transferred out 10 aircraft to squadrons in need, and over the course of several months, accepted six older jets in different stages of readiness. Eager to demonstrate the Warhawk standard once again, they expeditiously repaired, refurbished, and repainted the aircraft with the pride and professionalism you would expect from a top-notch organization. Team Warhawk is more than a motto to me. This squadron is a close knit family that prides itself on personal and professional excellence. Being the Skipper has been the highlight of my 20 year career!”
CDR Patterson is the 41st commanding officer to lead the Warhawks. “I’m excited and humbled to take over as CO of VFA-97. It is an honor to serve with the Warhawk Sailors, Chiefs, Officers, and their families that have made this squadron so successful,” he said. “I look forward to building on the success of CDR Bauer as the Warhawks continue to focus on our mission: developing and maintaining combat-ready Sailors, aircraft, and pilots.” Commander Daniel “Ricky” Kuitu also joined the squadron as Executive Officer.
VFA-97 is an F/A-18E Super Hornet Squadron, currently attached to Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8) and stationed at NAS Lemoore. VFA-97 was established at NAS Lemoore in June of 1967. Since then, the Warhawks have deployed 30 times, flying three different types of aircraft. VFA-97's 2018/19 World Tour deployment was their second in the F/A-18E Super Hornet. CVW-9 and the USS JOHN C STENNIS (CVN 74) supported Operations INHERAENT RESOLVE, DELIBERATIVE RESOLVE, and FREEDOM’S SENTINAL in the Middle East and operated in the South China Sea. For more information on VFA-97, visit their homepage at www.vfa97.navy.mil.