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Black Knights Get New CO, Hold At-Sea Change of Command

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070509-04
Release Date: 5/9/2007 2:19:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mark Logico, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 held a change of command ceremony aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on May 5.

The Black Knights, an F/A-18F squadron assigned to Carrier Air Wing 9 and embarked aboard Stennis, bid farewell to Cmdr. Robert “Colonel” Sanders and welcomed Cmdr. Michael “Buzz” Donnelly as their commanding officer in a ceremony on the ship’s fo'c’sle.

“It’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be part of the Black Knights,” said Sanders. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.”

Sanders said the 270 Sailors who make up the Black Knights meant the world to him.

“It’s a long road, and Sailors are making a difference out here,” said Sanders. “The things they do day in and day out are incredible. I look forward to seeing the squadron’s continued success.”

Sanders has flown multiple missions from conducting close-air support for coalition forces on the ground in Afghanistan to tactical and operational reconnaissance.

“I hope that I was able to make a small difference in peoples’ lives,” said Sanders.

Donnelly, who has been with the squadron as its executive officer since January 2006, said he will continue the outstanding accomplishments of the squadron’s present deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.

Donnelly said he is excited to lead an outstanding group in an important time for our country.

“The awesome responsibility of running an F/A-18F squadron is incredibly humbling,” said Donnelly. “It is something that you cannot do alone. I am fortunate to be surrounded by a top-notch group of professionals who I have the utmost confidence in to get any job done well, no matter how difficult the task.”

Donnelly also said he looks forward to the personal development of his personnel from warfare qualifications and promotions to college education and beginning new families.

“The young Black Knight Sailors we have on board today really impress me with their intellect, personal initiatives, ambition and their obvious commitment,” said Donnelly.



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