By Lt. Carie Boothe
HSM-74 Public Affairs
The "Swamp Foxes" of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 conducted an aerial change of command ceremony above aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), July 4 over the Mediterranean Sea when Cmdr. Daniel Testa assumed command from Cmdr. Teague Laguens.
During the ceremony, Testa and Laguens flew MH-60R Seahawk helicopters. Laguens flew in the formation lead, symbolically turning the squadron over to his relief.
"It's bittersweet," Laguens said. "Since my first sea duty, I set a bit of a personal goal. I wanted to be a commanding officer of a squadron. Here I am seeing that culminate and come to end, and it's emotional."
He noted some challenges in rising to the position of commanding officer.
"There's a lot of competition, a lot of hard work involved in getting to this point," Laguens said.
"It was the greatest honor of my life to work with these guys, the people in my squadron, the commanding officers of the other squadrons and the leadership in the strike group. I couldn't have asked for a better team to serve with."
A 1997 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Laguens reported as HSM-74's executive officer December 2013 while forward deployed aboard aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). He assumed command May 2015 at the beginning of the workup cycle for squadron's deployment with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3.
His sea tours include deployments on six ships with Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 49 and HSM-71.
Ashore, he served as an operational test director at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 1 and as a military assistant for the 55th Presidential Inauguration. He completed Air Force Air Command and Staff College Joint Professional Military Education Phase 1, was an instructor pilot at HSM-41, and served as a flag aide to Commander, Naval Air Forces.
Before arriving in "The Swamp," he served as the strategic communication plans chief for North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colo. Laguens' follow-on assignment is at Aviation Officer Assignments, Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn.
Testa, a 1997 graduate of Purdue University, was honored to begin his HSM-74 Commanding Officer tour.
"A day does not go by that I don't think of all the officers, Sailors, friends and family who have helped me to get to where I am," Testa said. "My only regret for today is that my family could not be here, so I could thank them personally for their sacrifice and support."
Testa reported as executive officer of HSM-74 May 2015. He spent his first tour as a pilot in HSL-48, deploying with ships involved in a myriad of missions and he returned to HSL-48 for his department head tour as an officer-in-charge. He spent time deployed on amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) as handler and mini-boss.
Ashore, he was an instructor pilot at HSL-40, attended the Naval War College, and was the J5 team lead while serving as a NATO Staff Officer at Joint Force Command Brunssum, Netherlands - during which time he was forward-deployed to the International Security Assistance Forces staff in Kabul, Afghanistan.
Cmdr. Nicholas DeLeo assumed duties as the squadron's executive officer.
HSM-74, embarked aboard ships in the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (Ike CSG), is deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of operations.
HSM-74 is part of the Ike CSG comprised of CSG-10 staff, the squadrons and staff of CVW-3, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26 staff and accompanying ships guided-missile destroyers USS Stout (DDG 55), USS Roosevelt (DDG 80), USS Mason (DDG 87) and USS Nitze (DDG 94), and guided-missile cruisers USS San Jacinto (CG 56) and USS Monterey (CG 61).