The ”Fighting Saints” of Fighter Composite Squadron Thirteen (VFC-13) held their change of command ceremony at Hangar Four onboard Naval Air Station Fallon on July 11, where Cmdr. Brian Ferguson was relieved as the squadron’s commanding officer by Cmdr. Wayne Oetinger.
It is the 30th such ceremony to install a new commanding officer since the squadron’s 1973 inception.
In an emotional speech, Ferguson addressed his friends, family, co-workers and fellow pilots, saying that the event wasn’t his retirement, but it did mark his retirement from flying Navy fighters. “I love this job,” he said, while recounting sea stories that made the assembled squadron personnel proud.
He gave special praise for the Sikorsky Aerospace Maintenance Company team that provides the upkeep for the squadron’s 14 Northrop-built F-5 Tiger II aircraft.
The keynote speech was delivered by Capt. Mark “Mutha” Hubbard, a friend and mentor of Ferguson. Hubbard recalled Ferguson’s eventful career with a personal touch, recounting combat missions, liberty calls and the general love of his people that Ferguson has. Hubbard served as Commodore, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific prior to his retirement from the Navy in April 2012.
During the ceremony, Ferguson was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal for his commanding officer’s tour. He also took the opportunity to present a Naval Achievement Medal to Hospital Corpsman Second Class Patrick Kilcline for saving the life of a Sea Cadet instructor in June.
In the time-honored tradition, Ferguson and Oetinger read their orders, saluted each other and reported the transfer of authority to their immediate superior, Capt. James Nichols, Commander Tactical Support Wing.
VFC-13 provides professional Fleet adversary support to Carrier Air Wing detachments, Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Programs, Fleet Replacement Squadrons and TOPGUN classes. In the past 14 months, the squadron has flown 4,249 sorties totaling over 4,500 flight hours.