Wallops Navy base holds change of command

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Cmdr. Jason Flanagan, the new Surface Combat Systems Center commanding officer, salutes Capt.-select Anthony Holmes at the change of command. Photo by Ashley Jester, T-Solutions Inc.

A career Navy officer was installed Aug. 26 as the leader of Surface Combat Systems Center, Wallops Island, the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s largest military base.

Cmdr. Jason Flanagan is the new commanding officer of the center, which includes administrative offices on Atlantic Road and several buildings on Wallops Island.

There are roughly 80 sailors stationed at the center, which employs approximately 60 civil servants and almost 300 contractors. The center supports testing and training for Navy combat systems, according to its website.

Flanagan takes over for Cmdr. Anthony C. Holmes, who was to be promoted to captain at a  ceremony this week in Texas — with his mother pinning on his captain’s insignia.

Holmes transferred to Naval Surface Warfare Center Port Hueneme Division, Port Hueneme, Calif., after a three-year duty tour at Wallops.

The change of command ceremony took place at the NASA Wallops Flight Facility. The guest speaker was Rear Adm. Seiko Okano, who leads the Naval Sea Systems Command Program Executive Office for integrated warfare systems.

The traditional Navy ceremony was a symbolic transfer of total responsibility and accountability to the new commanding officer. It included the center’s color guard and sideboys, and a speech by Kristen Collins, the center’s executive director.

Flanagan was commissioned through the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps and graduated from North Carolina State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering and a minor in military Studies.

He earned a Master of Science degree in astronautical engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., and has served on several sea tours aboard ships including the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman.

A reception at the Rocket Club, the on-base NASA bar, followed the ceremony with on-site catering provided by Liv’s Cafe & Deli in Exmore.

In brief remarks Holmes said he had worked to “eliminate barriers” to efficiency and productivity. He also welcomed Flanagan and the new commanding officer’s family.

Holmes personally thanked Karen Cherrix, his outgoing executive assistant, for her hard work and caring for sailors at the center. The change of command ceremony was held on Cherrix’s last day with the Navy before she began work at NASA.

Cmdr. Richard Zabawa, executive officer of the center, was the master of ceremonies. Accomack County Supervisor Ron Wolff, whose district includes the center, also attended the change of command.

Wolff said later he has never missed one, dating to Capt. Eric L. Washam’s 1990 change of command ceremony, which transferred the command to Capt. Ronald B. Moore.

Prior to arrival at the center, Flanagan’s most recent assignment was completed at the Missile Defense Agency’s Sea-Based Weapon Systems Program Office in Dahlgren.
Flanagan is the 14th commanding officer at the center.

The Wallops Navy base also hosts a Navy Gateway Inn and Suites to support personnel and leisure guests.

It also is one of the few places on the Delmarva Peninsula with a Real-Time Automated Personnel Identification System, or RAPIDS, which issues common-access cards by appointment or for walk-ins.

The RAPIDS station enables active-duty military, family members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors, and military retirees to receive CAC or military identification cards.

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