Thursday, October 9, 2008

Halpern takes helm at HX-21

Photos by Kim Upshaw
Col. Steven Brodfuehrer, outgoing HX-21 Commanding Officer, passes the colors to Capt. Steven Halpern while ADCS Bruce Boyle salutes. The passing of the colors symbolizes Halpern’s relieving Brodfuehrer as commanding officer of the squadron.
Capt. Steven Halpern became the newest commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two One (HX-21) Thursday Oct. 2, when he relieved Col. Steven Brodfuehrer during a change of command ceremony in Hangar 111.

Naval Air Test Wing Atlantic Commander, Col. Joseph A. Mortensen, served as guest speaker for the event. ‘‘You have performed superbly,” he said as he addressed the families, friends and coworkers who had gathered to bear witness to the event.

Mortensen credited the successes of the squadron and the test teams to ‘‘leadership excellence, technical competence and a concentration on core fundamentals of flight test support, management planning and safe and disciplined execution.”

‘‘The skipper would be the first to tell you that all the congratulations go to the men and women of HX-21,” he said. ‘‘For a team to be outstanding the team also needs outstanding leadership. The hallmark of Col. Brodfuehrer’s tour was his leadership, professionalism, and a strong desire for continuous process improvement.”

Mortensen spoke of the successes the squadron had achieved under Brodfuehrer’s command. ‘‘Over the past few years HX-21’s support of development test and evaluation led to successful accomplishment of critical milestones for several high visibility (ACAT 1) programs while at the same time supporting numerous in-service and out of production helicopter test efforts.

‘‘I personally want to thank every member of the HX-21 team for their selfless efforts and dedication,” said Mortensen. ‘‘You have unselfishly given of yourselves so that the Marines and Sailors can win wars.”

‘‘I can’t thank you enough, my friend,” Mortensen said, ‘‘for your leadership, dedication, support, tireless effort and the accomplishment of your mission.”

‘‘Capt. Steve Halpern, the chief test pilot, comes with a great reputation as a leader and test pilot,” Mortensen said as he spoke of the incoming commanding officer. ‘‘Steve (Halpern) has the right mix of experiences to effectively and efficiently lead this squadron.”

‘‘I look to the officers Sailors and Marines standing in formation, our contractor partners and government civilians, some of them sitting in the audience, and ask in absolute awe where do we find such men and women,” said Brodfuehrer as he recognized the Sailors and Marines who served under him.

‘‘The answer is clear,” he said. ‘‘We find them everywhere. Raised in families of different backgrounds across the country all with a desire to make a difference, to apply themselves to purposes larger than self.”

Brodfuehrer spoke of many challenges he faced ‘‘while conducting maintenance with a contract maintenance organization in the unique and often difficult environment of developmental test.

‘‘The Sailors and Marines constituted the pointy end of this endeavor and in this regard they performed magnificently,” he said as he addressed the audience.

As Brodfuehrer spoke of the future he said he is ‘‘extremely confident that Capt. Halpern will continue on this journey and meet with similar success.” He turned and directed his words to Halpern. ‘‘You have all the tools and an outstanding team here,” he said. ‘‘Take pride in your efficiency, in knowing you’ll make do, get the job done, bring everyone and everything home safely, and then move on.”

‘‘The fleet is engaged in a war of ideals against a shadowy, yet determined enemy and they cannot afford anything less from all of you that support them,” said Brodfuehrer. ‘‘Success to you all, fly safely and God Bless the United States of America.”

Brodfuehrer then relinquished his command by presenting the colors to Halpern.

‘‘The future is ours for the taking,” said Halpern. ‘‘Our focus will be on efficient and quality flight test in support of our customers, number one being the fleet. We accept this responsibility and will continue to perform our duties with pride and professionalism, honor and courage.”

‘‘Simply put, it is equally important to be a leader in the air, in the ready room in the maintenance shops and on liberty,” Halpern continued. ‘‘That’s it. Pretty simple. That’s what I was taught. That’s what I believe in. And that’s how I will lead you.”

With those words a new era began.