Capt. Michael P. McNellis assumed command of Carrier Air Wing 5 from Capt. Garry R. Mace during a flight deck ceremony aboard the USS Kitty Hawk as it pulled into Laem Chabang, Thailand, the Navy announced in a news release Tuesday.
During the ceremony, which occurred Saturday, Rear Adm. Douglas McClain, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, presented Mace with the Legion of Merit medal and talked about his importance to the strike group.
Carrier Air Wing 5 is made up of seven aircraft squadrons and two smaller aircraft detachments, consisting of about 70 aircraft and 2,000 people. The air wing and squadrons are based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, while the ship calls Yokosuka Naval Base home.
“If you want to succeed in everything you do, all you’d need to do is emulate Capt. Garry Mace,” McClain was quoted as saying in the release.
The wing sustained no major accidents during Mace’s year as commander, according to the release.
McNellis graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982 and trained as an EA-6B Prowler pilot.
His most recent assignment was as executive and commanding officer of the electronic warfare squadron deployed aboard USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier scheduled to replace the Kitty Hawk at Yokosuka in 2008.
An F/A-18 pilot with more than 3,000 flight hours, Mace next heads to Baghdad as commander of Joint Crew Composite Squadron 1, set up to counter insurgents’ remote-controlled improvised explosive devices.