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- Australian writer
May 7—With his family by his side, Cmdr. Jared Thomas became the leader of Training Squadron Nine at Naval Air Station Meridian during a change of command ceremony on Friday.
"It's truly exciting to take command, especially of a training squadron," Thomas said. "I really love being an instructor pilot. It's my second time doing it, and I think it is the best job in the Navy."
Thomas succeeds Cmdr. Meghan Angermann, who is retiring after 21 years of service.
A native of Waverly, Virginia, Thomas became interested in the military and aviation in high school. The 2004 graduate of the United States Naval Academy earned a bachelor of science in Oceanography, before reporting for flight training in June 2005 at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. In January 2007, he received his designation as a naval aviator.
After completing Fleet Replacement Squadron training at Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120, Thomas qualified in the E-2C Hawkeye and reported to the "Tigertails" of VAW-125 in July 2008. While assigned to VAW-125, he served aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), completing three deployments in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and United Response.
After finishing his first sea tour, Thomas reported to the "Greyhawks" of VAW-120 in 2011 as an instructor pilot. In addition to his normal duties, Thomas was temporarily assigned to the VX-1 "Pioneers" as a trusted agent for Initial Operational Test and Evaluation (IOT&E) of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye.
After completion of IOT&E, he was assigned as VAW-120's first Fleet Transition Officer, leading the first E-2D operational squadron through their platform transition. In 2014, Thomas returned to the fleet, reporting to VAW-125. During this tour he completed multiple detachments aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in support of the inaugural Fleet Readiness Training Plan cycle for the E-2D, culminating in the U.S. Navy's first Initial Operating Capability for the aircraft.
After selection for an aviation department head tour, he reported to the "Seahawks" of VAW-126 in April 2016. There he served as administrative officer, training officer, and maintenance officer during the squadron's transition to the E-2D platform and pre-deployment workups with the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
Following his department head tour, Thomas reported to the Joint Force Development Directorate of the Joint Staff in November 2017. There he served as an Operations and Information Sharing Observer/Trainer and a Senior Leader Education Facilitator in the Deployable Training Division.
Thomas has flown more than 2,500 hours and performed over 200 arrested landings. His decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal (2 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3 awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (three awards), Humanitarian Service Medal, and additional individual, campaign, and unit awards.
"It's bittersweet leaving the military"
During Angermann's leadership, the squadron professionally executed 16,072 training missions over 14,579 training flight hours in the T-45C Goshawk, a media release said.
Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, she was able to optimized production through eight Carrier Qualification Detachments, graduating five international military officers along with 77 Navy and Marine Corps aviators.
"It's bittersweet leaving the military," she said. "I've really enjoyed serving for the last 21 years, but I am looking forward to spending time with my family."
"I really feel like Meridian has become home," she added. "It's been really nice."
Angermann said she hopes her leadership over the past year will inspire other women.
"I feel lucky that I was able to take command of this squadron and I hope that other women can continue to have these opportunities," she said. "I was blessed to be able to do the same thing so many men have done before me. I am excited that women will continue to have these opportunities."