MILTON — Cmdr. Brian Sanderson, USN, formally turned over command of Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHTEEN to Lt. Col. Aaron Brunk, USMC, June 29 at the Naval Air Station Whiting Field Auditorium.
The ceremony marked the transition of authority from one officer to the other in front of the assembled staff, instructors and students.
It also marked the next step in a 19-year military career. Sanderson received his Wings of Gold in 1999 and executed orders to HS-10 in San Diego, Cal. in the SH-60F/HH-60H Seahawk helicopter.
He has served tours with the “Dragonslayers” of HS-11, another assignment with HS-10, this time as an instructor pilot, Carrier Air Wing EIGHT as Combat Search and Rescue Officer, with the “Tridents” of HS-3 and as a member of the Joint Staff in Suffolk, Va., before his assignment with HT-18.
Serving first as the executive officer for the command and then as commanding officer, Sanderson displayed dedication to safe, quality training throughout his two and one-half year tour.
Under his leadership, HT-18 exceeded its pilot training goals, designating 189 Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Allied helicopter aviators for FY-15. Sanderson also led the “Vigilant Eagles” in the execution of more than 52,000 flight hours across 26,000 syllabus training evolutions. HT-18 set the standard for advanced rotary wing production in key metrics including lowest time-to-train and total hours flown.
Under his leadership, the squadron provided the core of future aviation warfighters to meet the nation’s demands.
Brunk comes to the “Vigilant Eagles” after having most recently served at the United States Special Operations Command in the Force Management and Development Directorate.
A graduate of Tulane University in 1997, Brunk and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps and completed The Basic School later that same year.
He earned Commodore’s List designation and earned his aviator’s wings in December 1999. His first assignment placed him with HMLA-269 at New River, N.C. with follow-on orders to HMM-263 where he deployed with the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.
He has since served again with HMLA-269 (twice) as well as with the 2nd Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company, and two tours with the Marine Special Operations Command.
His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Combat “V”, Air Medal with numeral 7, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal and Combat Action Ribbon.