WHITING FIELD — The Naval Air Station Whiting Field wing that helps train "lethal military professionals," in the words of Rear Adm. Gregory Harris, chief of U.S. Naval air training, was placed under new command at a Thursday morning ceremony.
Navy Capt. Doug Rosa, who had served as deputy commodore of Whiting Field's Training Air Wing Five since August 2017, was appointed commodore of the wing in a change-of-command ceremony attended by nearly 300 people, including several Santa Rosa County commissioners, who host the 75-year-old installation.
Rosa will be responsible for an estimated 43 percent of the Chief of Naval Air Training Command's total flight time and more than 14 percent of Navy and Marine Corps' flight time world-wide, according to the public affairs office at NAS Whiting Field.
The outgoing commodore, Marine Col. Dave Morris, had served in that post since September 2017, and will head to an assignment at the Pentagon. Morris came to the wing in March 2016 as deputy commodore.
Looking back on his tenure as commodore of Training Air Wing Five, Morris said he was most proud of the effective and cohesive team he had been able to build with the 480 instructor pilots and hundreds of civilians and contractors at Whiting Field.
Rosa, who has been a naval aviator since 1997, was selected for command roles in 2009. Immediately prior to coming to Whiting Field, he served as command center director with the North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command.
"We will continue to produce the finest aviators in the world," Rosa said of his upcoming duties. "To do that, we need to be forward-thinking."
Training Air Wing Five provides initial flight training to more than 1,200 military personnel annually. Whiting Field provides 60 percent of the Navy's primary fixed-wing pilot training, and all of the primary helicopter pilot training for the Navy and Coast Guard.
"My biggest challenge is to provide an adequate number of aircraft for pilot training," Rosa said.
"Fifteen percent of total flight hours in the Navy are are flown at little Whiting Field," Harris said at the ceremony. Pilots at Whiting Field logged 208,000 flight hours last year, Harris said.
Marine Col. Jeffrey Pavelko will become the new deputy commodore for Training Air Wing Five, and will be next in line to become commodore of the wing. Command of Training Air Wing Five alternates between Navy and Marine Corps officers.
"Our primary mission is to train the best aviators in the world," said Harris, who added that the surrounding community is integral to helping NAS Whiting Field fulfill that mission.
"We cannot do what we do without the support of our local community," he said.