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DeBrine Passes Command of HT-18 to White

DeBrine Passes Command of HT-18 to White


By Lt. j.g. Tim Mosso, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs

Following 13 months at the helm, Cmdr. Jeffrey DeBrine passed command of Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN to Lt. Col. Robert White Thursday, July 26, at 10 a.m. in the Naval Air Station Whiting Field auditorium.

Before an assembly of friends, family, and colleagues, DeBrine handed White the HT-18 “Vigilant Eagles’” command pennant symbolizing the passing of the squadron’s reins.

The change of command ceremony is a time-honored tradition that enables the crew to welcome the new commanding officer to the unit and to praise the efforts of the outgoing skipper.  HT-18’s ceremony marked the latest transition in the joint-forces squadron’s rotation between Navy and Marine Corps leadership.

Training Air Wing FIVE Commodore Col. James Grace served as the guest speaker for the event, and commented on the outgoing commander’s well-known sense of humor and jovial manner.  Grace opined that DeBrine’s judicious application of levity and gravity was a catalyst for advancing general excellence at HT-18.

“You are a character… you are very funny, a real life-of-the-party kind of guy.  Command can feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders… humor puts people at ease, lessens tensions, and makes people more approachable.

“Knowing when to be humorous and when to be serious is a real challenge… that is leadership at its best,” Grace remarked.

During DeBrine’s tour, the “Vigilant Eagles” flew over 53,000 mishap-free flight hours, encompassing over 29,000 training syllabus events, placed wings of gold upon 503 Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and allied Naval aviators, and extended the squadron’s Navy record of Class-A-mishap-free flight hours to 1,193,946.

HT-18 personnel embraced and internalized DeBrine’s upbeat, can-do persona, as evidenced by the diverse and numerous accolades the unit earned under his leadership.  Under DeBrine, the squadron was honored with the 2010 Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence and Chief of Naval Operations Safety Awards, the 2010 John H. Towers Flight Safety Award, and the 2010 Grampaw Pettibone Award.

Additionally, the esprit de corps bred by DeBrine’s positive and engaging style extended to extra-curricular activities and community engagement. A rugged team of athlete-naturalists from HT-18 conquered the 2011 Wilderness Challenge in the name of the “Vigilant Eagles.”

Earlier this year, DeBrine and the squadron celebrated four decades of Vigilant Eagles service with an enthusiastic collection of former students and staff.  Grace commended DeBrine’s dynamic leadership style, which the commodore cited for building upon the squadron’s 40-year legacy of success.

“You inherited a good squadron… you put your imprint on them, and you made them even better,” Grace remarked.

DeBrine was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his numerous achievements during his tour at the squadron, and the citation placed particular emphasis on the “exceptionally positive command climate.”

In signature fashion, DeBrine accepted his parting accolades with self-effacing humor.

“Students [of HT-18], if you’re anything like HT-18 student Ensign DeBrine was back in 1994… waiting for the change of command to finally be over, you are dying for this thing to end!”

DeBrine expressed gratitude to the flight instructors, civilian staff members, and enlisted air crew whose contributions were essential to the success of his tour. But he reserved his deepest gratitude for his on-looking parents, his wife Ami, and his children.

“It has always been comforting to know I have family to lean on during good and bad times,” DeBrine reflected.

DeBrine accorded his successor a resounding endorsement.

“Lt. Col. White, I couldn’t have asked for a more dedicated and capable officer… you have truly raised the bar. You are so ready to be the CO; congrats, and enjoy the ride,” DeBrine concluded.

Immediately after issuing his unqualified endorsement and gratitude to White, DeBrine formally relinquished command.  His next duty station will be Stuttgart, Germany, where DeBrine will join the United States Africa Command.

White was introduced as the Commanding Officer, Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN.  For the new squadron commander, it was both an honor and a thrill.

“You have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to hear that,” White enthused.

In accord with the day’s consonance between humor and humility, he followed with a self-deprecating jest.

“My goal today is to show up, stand up, shut up, and sit down!”

The new squadron commander acknowledged the caliber of the standard set by his predecessor.  White credited DeBrine with leaving HT-18 in a state of professional strength and high morale. He implored unit personnel to join him in extending DeBrine’s legacy at HT-18.

“I am completely dedicated to providing quality leadership to accomplish our mission… I have the utmost confidence in you.  When I walk down our passageway, I know that tomorrow we will not discover that we should have demanded more of ourselves today.  It’s an honor to serve you,” White declared.

The squadron’s new executive officer will be Cmdr. Kevin Pickard who joins HT-18 following a tour as Military Affairs Officer for the Department of Counter-Proliferation Initiatives in Washington, D.C.

Posted by on Jul 28 2012. Filed under Military. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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