The Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Wing Pacific, located aboard Naval Air Station North Island, held its change of command Thursday, May 24. In front of hundreds of guests, including Navy Flag Officers, Captains, Commanding Officers, Sailors, industry partners and family and friends, Captain David “Woody” Walt turned over Command to Captain Peter “Schnap” Schnappauf.
Vice Adm. DeWolfe Miller, Commander Naval Air Forces, was the presiding officer and spoke of the great work that Commodore Walton did during his time as Commander of HSM Wing Pacific. “Woody’s responsibilities encompassed nine geographically dispersed squadrons, a fleet replacement squadron and a Weapons School. He led over 4,000 officers, enlisted and civilians, people our most precious asset led by a most respected leader, and he was magnificent,” said Miller. “Woody has truly embodied the priorities of Naval Aviation: warfighting, people, and the readiness of both.”
As Commodore Walt approached the podium, his pride and emotions were apparent while addressing his Wing one final time. He took the opportunity to inspire the young leaders of tomorrow by describing why they should want to aspire to his position someday “…You would want my job because as commodore you get to fly with every squadron in the wing, the most junior officers and the most seasoned weapons and tactics instructors, in short, you get to see the future and you get to know that our nation is in good hands. You want my job because of the influence you have on the community’s future and the ability to shape the legacy of the HSM community.”
Walt also thanked his family and friends who traveled to his ceremony, acknowledged those who couldn’t make it due to a last minute date change and gave a heartfelt thanks to his wife Kristin, and two boys Mason and Nolan. Walt closed his remarks saying, “To the men and women of HSM WINGPAC, it was the honor of a lifetime to be your commodore. I depart the pattern today with deep personal and professional satisfaction, I’ve witnessed first hand your hunger to be the best in the world at your job, stay hungry and take care.”
During this time-honored tradition of the Navy Change of Command, both the outgoing and incoming commodores read their orders as one turned over the reigns, along with the vast responsibility, to the other. The ceremony offered a time of reflection for a job well done and high expectations for continued success.
Captain Schnappauf acknowledged that he had big shoes to fill and is excited for the task. “I am both humbled and energized for the opportunity to lead this exceptional community,” said Schnappauf. “To the men and women of HSM wing pacific, your charter is simple, focus on warfighting, readiness, and people.” Schnappauf went on to thank his wife, “Andrea, I know this journey has not always been easy… but you make it possible for me to pursue my passion and you always keep the ship headed fair at home.”