Capt. Michael Connor relieved Capt. Sean Haley as the 48the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) during a change of command ceremony April 12. Commander, Navy Region Rear Adm. Bette Bolivar was the guest speaker.
“Today you will witness the formal passing of command. Navy regulations and tradition are very clear about this event and its importance,” said Bolivar. “The change of command is a cornerstone of our Navy providing a chance to celebrate past accomplishments and look toward the future.”
“Today, Capt. Haley will read his orders and acknowledge that he is ready to be relieved. Capt. Connor will then read his orders and accept the great responsibility of command,” said Bolivar. “For as long as our nation has had a Navy, this has been done in roughly the same manner so there is never any question about who is in charge. And for the last 18 months, there’s been no doubt that Capt. Haley has been in charge. Every great team needs a great leader. At no time was that more apparent than during Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. He made sure his Sailors, families and civilians were informed and safe.”
“Today, this base with the P-8A Poseidon and Triton UAV, is the cornerstone of the maritime patrol Navy,” she continued.
“Our warfighters are able to focus on the mission because people like Capt. Haley and his team take care of everything else. From airfield and runways, to security at the fence line, to the award-winning galley and outstanding child development center, to the many MWR programs, to the bachelor quarters, to the Fleet and Family Support Center, Sailors and their families have everything they need to get the job done.
Bolivar went on to mention some of the many quotables Haley is known for before presenting him with the Legion of Merit Award for an exceptional job well done.
Haley was also recognized by Sen. Bill Nelson in a letter read by his representative Michelle Barth; Sen. Marco Rubio in a letter read by his representative Katie Ross; Congressman John Rutherford in a letter read by his representative Jackie Smith and Congressman Ted Yoho in a letter read by his representative Jessica Norfleet.
NAS Jax Command Master Chief Jeffery Waters also presented Haley with a shadowbox on behalf of the NAS Jax Chiefs’ Mess and Lt. David Williams of Air Operations presented him with a handcrafted golf club on behalf of the NAS Jax Wardroom.
As Haley took the podium, he thanked his family members for their support during his naval career.
“I would like to offer a special thanks to my family and friends in attendance today. My mother would have liked to have seen this event, but I know she is looking down with pride and is here with us today in spirit,” he said.
“Twenty months ago, I stood before you and challenged you to remain laser focused on our mission to support the fleet, fighter and family; to treat each other with respect and dignity; to embrace innovation and never accept the status quo; and to continue to foster and build upon out outstanding relationship with the local community,” said Haley.
“We have endured many challenges along the way – major construction projects, fires, security threats, major hurricanes, and numerous other challenges. Through it all, it was out sense of teamwork, and an unrelenting drive to support the fleet and warfighter that allowed us to persevere.”
Haley added, “I stand before you to thank you for keeping our mission paramount, never losing sight of our purpose and direction, and having the courage to persevere through any and all adversity.”
As a surprise, Haley called Dan Schickler of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast Public Works Department, presenting him with the Meritorious Civilian Service Award for outstanding service to the station during the 2015-16 runway project and Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. He also presented ACCS Eddie McKinney of the Air Operations Department for managing operations at NAS Jax and Cecil Airport during the runway project.
Haley then read his orders directing him to report to CNRSE as chief of staff before relinquishing command to Connor.
After assuming command, Connor offered his remarks. “I’d like to recognize and thank some family and friends who are with me today,” said Connor, who went on to personally thank each of them for attending the ceremony.
He also thanked the Jacksonville community for their support to the station. “As the most military-friendly city in the U.S., we cannot thank you enough for your support of the military and our veterans,” said Connor. “I am committed to ensuring NAS Jax maintains, and where able, furthers our relationship and cooperation on mutual interests as well as continues to remain a good steward of the environment.”
“To our tenant command COs, NAS Jax exists to sustain your mission, enable your Sailors and civilians, and support your families,” he continued. “NAS Jax will strive to meet your needs with first-rate service.”
Connor also addressed the NAS Jax team. “To the Sailors and civilians of NAS Jax, my expectations are simple and clear,” said Connor. “First, provide the very best service and facilities that you can to our tenants. They rely on it. That is our mission. We are in the
customer service business. Second, be the very best version of yourself that you can be. This not only encompasses your professional performance, but also your physical and mental well-being. Seek continual improvement. And third, have fun. We have a saying in naval aviation, if you aren’t having fun, you aren’t doing it right.”
Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the River Cove Catering and Conference Center.