Coronado’s white sand beaches are a beautiful place to enjoy the ocean and the sunset, and you can also enjoy watching Navy helicopters train just off the coast. Naval Air Station North Island is home to 16 Active Navy helicopter squadrons and Captain David Walt is the Commodore in charge of eight of them, as well as one squadron in Hawaii, two forward deployed squadrons in Japan, and a weapons school responsible for tactical training of all of them.
As the Commodore of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Wing Pacific, Walt is responsible for leading over 4,000 Sailors and government civilians, ensuring all his squadrons are manned, trained and ready to deploy, and providing operational command and oversight for his four expeditionary squadrons whose detachments must be ready for any tasking from Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief to the high end warfight. When asked what his favorite part of the job is, he shared: “It’s really working with the Sailors, seeing them train and develop, then deploy and do great things to protect this nation, it is really inspiring.” He went on to say, “Another important and rewarding part of this job is that as Commodore you help shape the future for the community. If in 2040 HSM squadrons are continuing to contribute to the warfight, I’ll feel proud to have been a small part of that.”
Commodore Walt grew up in Dallas, Texas and earned his degree from the University of Texas at Austin while also earning his Navy commission through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Program. A sixth generation Texan and the son of two police officers, Walt knew from a very early age that he wanted to fly and serve his country. His parents took him to airshows all over Texas and when he was 12 years they got him a discovery flight that made him determined to one day become a Naval Aviator. A member of his high school rodeo team, a soccer player, and an avid camper, who took family vacations backcountry camping during his youth, all helped shape the man he is today. Capt. Walt and his wife Kristin have two young boys, their youngest is in TK at ECDC and oldest in Village Elementary, both involved in scouts and soccer and love their family camping trips.
The Navy has brought the Walt family all over the world from Europe to Japan. Walt said, “Any overseas tour makes you value and appreciate all that we have here in America. Europe was an incredible experience where Kristin and I were young and took advantage of the travel opportunities, and our oldest son was born there. Japan was a place we built enduring friendships with members of the local community, our son was in the international school there and it was my command tour so it was very special. When you are forward deployed in Japan you really understand the importance of forward presence in that critical region of the world.” The Walts also spent time stationed on the east coast in Norfolk, DC, and Jacksonville, but Walt said, “I’ve been trying to get stationed here for a long time. We all love Coronado and it is going to be difficult to leave [when I get my next set of orders].” When asked what his favorite part of Coronado is, he said, “It’s really the community, it has such a small-town feel, everyone is out on their bikes around town, the amazing weather helps with that but we love that it is such a tight knit community.”
Two of Walt’s six west coast carrier based squadrons are deployed with Coronado’s own USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). HSM-37, the Hawaii based expeditionary squadron supports both detachments as well as the Coast Guard in Hawaii, often times participating in search and rescue missions and medical evacuations off ships in the area. The Japan based squadrons are attached to the forward deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and her Cruiser/Destroyer escorts. The weapons school is responsible for providing standardized training, evaluation, and support to HSM squadrons, preparing them to be ready for battle, excel in all mission areas, and ultimately succeed in combat. Walt is extremely proud of the entire HSM community and the great work they are doing. He said, “I have the best job in the world, I get to fly and lead the finest aviation community in the Navy.”