From helo to helm: Pilot takes command of US 6th Fleet flagship Mount Whitney
Stars and Stripes April 13, 2023
NAPLES, Italy — An experienced helicopter pilot whose numerous deployments include stints in the Middle East assumed command this week of U.S. 6th Fleet flagship USS Mount Whitney.
Capt. Matthew Kiser relieved Capt. Daniel Prochazka on Tuesday in Gaeta, Italy, U.S. 6th Fleet said in a statement the following day.
Commissioned in 2000, Kiser recently served as executive officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, deploying to the Mediterranean and Arabian seas in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, according to his Navy biography.
Kiser also has served with Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 46 and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 51, and commanded HSM-71, among other assignments.
His wife, Cmdr. Jennifer Kiser, also is a helicopter pilot serving in the Navy Reserve, according to the winter 2023 edition of the military magazine Rotor Review. His younger brother, Cmdr. Dave Kiser, is executive officer of Helicopter Training Squadron 18 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field in Florida, according to the squadron’s web page.
Prochazka served as Mount Whitney’s commanding officer since August 2021. He will become a senior military assistant to Army Gen. Christopher Cavoli, the NATO supreme allied commander in Europe.
During Prochazka’s tenure, Mount Whitney completed a $22 million dry-dock maintenance period and went to sea several times as part of Striking and Support Forces NATO, according to the statement.
“I am a better mariner, a better leader and a better person than when I got here,” Prochazka said in the statement, reflecting on his time commanding the ship.
Mount Whitney, one of two Blue Ridge-class amphibious command ships in the fleet, is slated for decommissioning in 2026, according to 2023 Navy budget documents.
The other ship, USS Blue Ridge, is flagship of U.S. 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan. It is scheduled to remain in service until 2039.