Training Air Wing FIVE will observe a change at the helm Thursday, March 21 at 10 a.m. in the Naval Air Station Whiting Field Auditorium as Col. James Grace will cede command of the unit to Capt. James Fisher.
Grace, the second Marine Commander of the unit, will retire during the ceremony after more than 30 years of military service.
Grace was designated as a Naval Aviator in 1984 at NAS Whiting Field. As a UH-1N (Huey) pilot, he served multiple tours with various squadrons in California and Okinawa. He also served tours with Headquarters Marine Corps; deployed in support of Operations Joint Endeavor, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom; commanded HMLA-167, was appointed to a division chief position for the Joint Staff, and earned his Master of Arts in National Security Strategy at the Naval War College. While serving as the Headquarters Marine Corps Director of Safety, he was selected to become the deputy and then the Commodore for TRAWING-5.
As Commander of the largest wing within the Chief of Naval Air Training, Grace oversaw roughly 60 percent of the Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard initial fixed-wing training and 100 percent of the initial rotary training. The six training squadrons and two flight instructor units flew more than 117,000 sorties encompassing nearly 190,000 flight hours under his guidance. The training provided more than 730 “airborne warriors” to the helicopter fleet and produced 1,500 primary completers ready to enter advanced flight training.
Grace led the advance to the T-6B Texan II primary flight trainer, helping the three primary squadrons complete their transitions as well as relieve problems associated with airspace congestion and access to landing fields for the new aircraft. He also instilled a culture of safety within the training wing that was highlighted during a 2012 Chief of Naval Air Training inspection, which resulted in the recognition of 31 “Best Practices,” a Naval Air Training high,
Fisher is a 1987 Naval Academy graduate who was designated a Naval Aviator in March 1989. This is his third tour at NAS Whiting Field, where he earned his wings as well as served as a flight instructor from 1992 to 1995, being recognized as the 1994 Chief of Naval Air Training Instructor of the Year. He has flown with Anti-Submarine Squadrons HSL-36, HSL-40, and HSL-42, as well as serving as the Airboss on the USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). Fisher also earned his master’s degree at the Naval War College, was the Commanding Officer of Training Squadron TWENTY-EIGHT in Corpus Christi, Tex., and served two tours at the Pentagon – the last as the Warfighting Support Branch Head before returning to Milton, Fla.
Fisher will assume command of the Navy's busiest training wing, which flies approximately 44 percent of the Chief of Naval Air Training flight hours and nearly 11 percent of Navy and Marine Corps flight hours worldwide. Col. Gary A. Kling will become the new Deputy Commodore.
The guest speaker for the event will be Lt. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr. USMC, Deputy Commandant, Manpower & Reserve Affairs/Commanding Officer, Marine Corps Recruiting Command.