Cmdr. Robert G. Sinram will relieve Cmdr. Matthew J. Bowen of duty as Commanding Officer of Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT during a Change-of-Command ceremony Friday, May 9 at 1300 in the Naval Air Station Whiting Field Atrium building.  Commander Pacific Fleet Adm. Harry Harris will serve as the guest speaker for the occasion.

            Under the command of Bowen HT-8 flew over 22,000 class ‘A’ mishap free flight hours; executed approximately 12,000 sorties, resulting in the completion of over 10,500 syllabus events; and achieved over 82 percent of fiscal year 2013 Integrated Pilot Production requirements despite numerous external challenges and limited resources. HT-8 is also well on the way to attaining the goals of fiscal year 2014.

            Bowen’s guidance forged 156 Navy, Marine, Coast Guard, and Allied Naval Aviators meeting CNATRA mandated production goals. He also personally met with each graduating class to discuss end of course critiques, drawing from student feedback in an effort to improve HT-8’s training approach and customizing extracurricular training plans for students who struggled throughout the syllabus. 

 HT-8 received an “Outstanding” from the Chief of Naval Air Training Flight Instructor Standardization Training (FIST) Team, under the leadership of Bowen; the only Squadron in Training Air Wing FIVE to do so. The squadron was also described as maintaining the finest safety programs in the wing and having some of the best programs in CNATRA: achieving a discrepancy-free ground safety inspection; having the best BASH program of all TRAWING-5 squadrons; and receiving a grade of “Outstanding” on the 2013 NATOPS Evaluation with zero discrepancies. HT-8 has also been recommended by TRAWING-5 for the Admiral Towers Flight Safety Award.

Bowen began his career in June 1995 as a graduate of the Merchant Marine Academy where he reported to the USS WHIDBEY ISLAND (LSD-41) as the M Division Officer, Legal Officer and Training Officer. Following his transition into Naval Aviation, Bowen completed primary flight training at VT-6 before earning his “Wings of Gold” with HT-18 at NAS Whiting Field.

            Throughout his career, Bowen helped to transition HC-6 to HSC-26 as part of the navy’s helicopter re-organization serving two tours with HSC-26 “Chargers.” He was part of the MH60R/S Fleet Introduction Team while assigned to HSC-3 “Merlins” then transitioned to the SH-60F/HH-60H with HS-10 “Warhawks.”

            Playing a pivotal role in the transition of HS-8 to HSC-8 and made the first ever MH-60R/S deployment as part of Carrier Air Wing NINE onboard the USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN-74). He also worked as the Flag Lieutenant to the Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force; Director of Personnel for the Commander, Combined Joint Special Operations Air Component in Balad Iraq; Deputy Executive Assistant to the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations; and Special Assistant and Speechwriter to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations; and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval War College with a Masters of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies.

            Sinram takes command of HT-8 after 17 Years of Naval Service. As a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Sinram earned his aviator wings after completing primary flight training with VT-6 and advanced rotary wing with HT-18 at NAS Whiting Field in 1999.

            Following the initial CH/HH-46D “Sea Knight” fleet replacement pilot training, Sinram was assigned to HC-11 “Gunbearers”. Sinram deployed twice to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom where he served as Schedules Officer, Detachment Operations Officer, and Aviation Safety Officer.

After transitioning to the MH-60S, Sinram reported to Commander Helicopter Tactical Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMHELTACWINGPAC) where he was a Fleet Replacement Squadron Instructor at HSC-3 “Merlins.” He was instrumental in the formation of Commander Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (COMHSCWINGPAC) during the navy’s helicopter re-organization.

Assigned to the USS PELELIU (LHA-5), Sinram served as the V-3 Division Officer and Aircraft Handling Officer during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Peleliu Pacific Partnership 2007 where he earned his qualifications as Officer of the Deck (Underway) and Command Duty Officer. Joining HSC-21 “Blackjacks” in 2008 as Department Head, Sinram deployed as Detachment Four Officer-in-Command supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sinram also served as Assistant Deputy Director of Operations for the Joint Staff; Senior Emergency Actions Officer; and Presidential Strike Advisor on Operations Team Four, National Military Command Center.

Cmdr. John D. McBryde will replace Sinram as Executive Officer for the squadron.