Story by Lt. Nathaniel “SOD” Edwards

PHILIPPINE SEA – The Warhawks of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 executed an airborne change of command overhead USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) March 7 as Cmdr. Doug Peterson was relieved by Cmdr. Matt Doyle as commanding officer.

A formation of three F/A-18E Super Hornets roared overhead in a symbolic formation lead change with Capt. Richard Brophy, Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, presiding over the transfer of leadership while a flight deck full of Warhawk Sailors and other spectators watched below.

Peterson reported to VFA-97 as executive officer before assuming command in November 2014. During his tour, the Warhawks completed a year-long work up cycle in preparation for their current Western Pacific deployment.

Prior to deployment, the Warhawks demonstrated excellence in every facet of squadron activity under Peterson’s leadership, becoming back-to-back Hornet Ball Sports Champions, winning the John P. McClaren Bombing Derby, and being awarded the CVW-9 Top Hook Award.

In his farewell address to his Sailors, Peterson stated, “It has been my honor and privilege to be a member of Team Warhawk. I am humbled by this squadron’s dedication to their profession, their awe-inspiring work ethic and their leadership at every level. To paraphrase President John F. Kennedy, ‘any person who may be asked what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction: I served in Team Warhawk!'”

Peterson, who has accumulated more than 3,000 flight hours and over 650 carrier arrested landings, departs to become Commander, Task Force 63 in Naples, Italy.

Doyle reported to VFA-97 as executive officer after serving as executive officer of VFA-122. He has previously served at VFA-97, deploying with the Warhawks twice during that time. Carrying on as the second legacy Warhawk to take the helm, Doyle looks forward to continuing to work with the squadron’s exceptional Sailors.

“I am truly humbled to once again be a part of the finest Strike Fighter Squadron in the U.S. Navy,” said Doyle. “The men and women that make up Team Warhawk are true professionals of the highest quality. I look forward to the great accomplishments we can achieve as we continue to stand our watch on the pointy end of the spear.”

Doyle is a graduate of U.S. Navy Test Pilot School and has accumulated over 2,800 flight hours in multiple platforms including over 2,300 hours in the F/A-18A-D Hornet and F/A-18E-F Super Hornet.
Cmdr. Patrick O’Mara joins VFA-97 as the executive officer after serving as a Cyberspace Electronic Warfare Operations Officer in support of the J3 and J6 Joint Staff directorates.

O’Mara is a graduate of Navy Fighter Weapons School Topgun and has accumulated over 2,600 flight hours in multiple platforms including over 2,300 hours in the F/A-18A-D Hornet and F/A-18E-F Super Hornet. He is the third executive officer in a row who previously served at VFA-97 for a tour, deploying with the Warhawks once before.

The VFA-97 Warhawks are assigned to CVW-9, currently embarked on Stennis. Providing a ready force supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, Stennis is operating as part of the Great Green Fleet on a regularly scheduled 7th Fleet deployment.

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