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Former USS Ford commanding officer takes over Naval Air Force Atlantic command

Rear Adm. John F. Meier salutes side boys during a change of command for Command Strike Group 10 ain this June, 21, 2016 photo.

TREY FOWLER/U.S. NAVY

By PATRICK VARINE | The Tribune-Review | Published: May 5, 2020

GREENSBURG, Pa. (Tribune Content Agency) — Export, Pa. native and Navy Rear Adm. John Meier was placed in charge of six nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 54 air squadrons, 1,200 aircraft and 43,000 officers, enlisted and civilian personnel on May 1.

Meier relieved Rear Adm. Roy Kelley during a change-of-command ceremony for the Naval Air Force Atlantic. Kelley, an Ohio native, is retiring after a 36-year military career.

Meier graduated from the U.S. Navy Academy in 1986, and was winged as a naval aviator in 1988. According to his official biography, Meier has participated in operations around the world since Operation Desert Storm, led Southern Partnership Station, and built the crew and culture of the USS Gerald R. Ford — which in 2016 was the Navy’s newest warship — as the aircraft carrier’s first commanding officer.

Adm. Chris Grady, commander for the U.S. Fleet Forces Command, recognized Meier as the right choice to lead.

“(Y)our reputation as an intellectual leader and track record of providing innovative solutions to complex challenges will suit you well,” Grady said. “I am grateful to continue serving with you following your superb time at Naval Warfare Development Command.”

Meier’s remarks focused on the job at hand, the manning, training, and equipping of Naval Air Force Atlantic, but he also spent time talking about the important role each sailor and their families play as it applies to overall readiness.

“I am humbled at the faith, confidence and responsibility you have placed with me,” said Meier, who recognized Kelley for his successes while in command. “(Y)ou set the table so well. It is a high honor to relieve you as commander (for the) Naval Air Force Atlantic.”

Meier has accumulated over 4,000 flight hours and logged 675 carrier landings, in addition to commanding one of the world’s largest warships.

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