Thursday, April 5, 2007

Lt. Col. Brodfuehrer takes command at HX-21

Photo by Rick Thompson

Navy Capt. Dean Peters (right) congratulates Marine Lt. Col. Steven Brodfuehrer on his assumption of command of HX-21 at the Change of Command ceremony Thursday. Seated is NAWCAD Commander Rear Adm. Steven Eastburg.
Marine Lt. Col. Steven Brodfuehrer became the commanding officer of HX-21 last Thursday, relieving Navy Capt. Dean Peters, whose next assignment is director, integrated test for the VH-71 program.

Peters also received the Meritorious Service Medal for his achievements during the command tour, with NAWCAD Commander Rear Adm. Steven Eastburg performing the honors of presentation.

In opening the ceremony, Peters noted, ‘‘The ceremony which you are about to witness is a time-honored naval tradition, and is as old as the alliance between the Navy and the Marine Corps, an alliance which is fully enacted today as an officer of the Navy relinquishes command to an officer in the Marine Corps.”

Naval Test Wing Atlantic Commander Col. Joseph Mortensen agreed, adding that the change of command was ‘‘for military and civilian professionals of HX-21. While commanders come and go, the squadron always remains. What is important is the passing of authority and responsibility from one leader to the next. There is no confusion about who is in charge.”

The event is also, he continued, ‘‘an opportunity to celebrate the squadron’s accomplishments and bid farewell to a skipper. Mar-ines and Sailors are placed in harm’s way every day all over the world, defending from those who seek to destroy us. They deserve the backing of our nation to be successful.”

Those Sailors and Marines, Mortensen said, ‘‘expect that we deliver reliable capabilities to them in order to successfully complete their mission and return home safety. The HX-21 team knows who they work for. The HX-21 team has a clear connection with the Marines and Sailors they support.”

According to Mortensen, ‘‘That connection has inspired the greater HX-21 team to develop, test and evaluate weapons systems in support of the current war and to meet the future challenges to our freedoms. The HX-21 team has performed magnificently.”

He stated, ‘‘For a team to be outstanding, it also needs outstanding leadership. The hallmark of Dean Peters’ tour has been his leadership, professionalism and the development of an environment of trust.”

Peters, said Mortensen, ‘‘has been involved in every aspect of the squadron from taking care of the troops, increasing communications, and instituting efficiencies throughout its operations while posturing HX-21 for continued success.”

He also lauded the safety record that led to HX-21’s receipt of the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award for 2006. ‘‘Every member of HX-21 can be justifiably proud of this award. You earned it and you deserve it.”

Looking to the future, Mortensen said that Peters’ successor comes with ‘‘a great operational background” and ‘‘has the right mix of experience to effectively lead HX-21 in such projects as testing of the new Presidential helicopter.”

In his remarks, Peters thanked the many who had helped HX-21 succeed during his time in command. ‘‘It all starts with a noble mission, a mission so important that is worth dedicating your entire self to its accomplishment — even when it means considerable sacrifice,” he said. ‘‘HX-21 is making a difference in the operational capability of the armed forces deployed in harm’s way. Here at HX-21 there is a sense of urgency associated with our mission.”

Helicopters, he continued, ‘‘are the workhorses of the fleet. When the dust settles, the rotary wing aircraft remain — moving troops and equipment, providing cover for ground forces, extracting wounded, providing humanitarian assistance, and protecting the sea lanes and shipping channels. We have many officers and enlisted who were once here, and are now back out there.”

Peters told Brodfuehrer, ‘‘You are more than ready to assume command. I know you’ll do exceptionally well.”

He then read the order relieving him of command, and Brodfeuhrer officially came forward and relieved Peters as commanding officer of HX-21.

Brodfuehrer told those attending the ceremony, ‘‘The group of Sailors, Marines, government civilians and contractors you see assembled around you perform a vital service for our fighting naval forces each and every day. What makes this feat even more amazing is that compared to our counterparts, these men and women complete their mission in what’s called a ‘resource-constrained environment.’ To coin an old phrase: so much, for so long on so little, but practically anything is possible for almost nothing.”

He continued, ‘‘Efficiency has become so ingrained in our rotary wing way of life that it has stopped being just a reality; it is part of our collective identity. We take pride in knowing we can make do, get it done safely, and move on.”

According to Brodfuehrer, ‘‘This ethos of efficiency is, however, a careful balancing act. To be mindful of how fast is too fast, how low is too low, and how little is too little, is an age-old question that every test crew ponders. Capt. Peters relied on the knowledge and experience of our incredible test teams, dedicated maintainers, and a host of professionals that provide oversight for support services to the squadron.”

Said Brodfuehrer, ‘‘In this regard, I plan no change. Each of you are entrusted to know your jobs, and perform them to the best of your abilities — to recognize hazards, to voice concerns, and to trust in a time-tested process rooted in lessons from previous generations of bent metal or, worse, shattered lives. The squadron has and will continue to perform brilliantly in all these responsibilities.”