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Top Cats Get New "Top Cat"

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070516-03
Release Date: 5/16/2007 12:06:00 PM

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

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- While supporting combat operations in the North Arabian Sea, the “Top Cats” of Sea Control Squadron (VS) 31 held its 51st and last change of command aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) on May 13.

The Topcats, assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 embarked aboard John C. Stennis, bid farewell to Cmdr. Timothy Langdon, and welcomed Cmdr. Muzzafar Khan as the squadron’s last commanding officer, in a ceremony on the ship’s foc’sle.

Langdon thanked his squadron for making his experiences with the naval aviation culture worth being a part of. He said he had the best job anyone could have.

“We are a very people oriented squadron, and we’re proud of that,” said Langdon. “So many people have made this tour enjoyable.”

Langdon has led and flown multiple missions supporting multinational forces on the ground and in the air of Afghanistan during this year’s deployment.

“As I turn over the command of VS-31, I do so with a great deal of reluctance for the fact that my time in VS-31 with you as Top Cats is over,” said Langdon. “However, I depart the command knowing that as long as there are Top Cats serving the fleet, my family and I will be safe and sound.”

Langdon served as the Top Cats’ commanding officer since May 2006 and is heading to Washington to work for the chief of naval personnel.

“I look forward to continue to serve with you whenever, wherever and whatever you may need, because as a Top Cat, that’s how we roll,” said Langdon. “Now, it’s time for Cmdr. Khan to take the reigns and take the Top Cats to a higher level. I am thoroughly convinced that there is no better man than he.”

Khan migrated to the United States from Pakistan in 1981 and is the first Muslim to take command of an aviation squadron.

“I came to this country as an immigrant and decided to make it my home,” said Khan. “This is truly a land of opportunity. You can come from anywhere in the world and once you become a U.S. citizen all the doors are open to you. You can go as high as you want, and there are no barriers.”

Khan initially enlisted in the Navy in 1987 and was later commissioned through Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla. in 1989. After completing many tours, he later was assigned to be Top Cats’ executive officer in May 2006.

“During the last year as the executive officer, I have been the happiest Sailor in the fleet,” said Khan. “I thank God for blessing me with command of the finest squadron. It’s all about people, and you are the finest team assembled.”

Khan, in his remarks, dedicated the change of command ceremony to the Top Cats’ families.

“I would like to dedicate this ceremony to our families,” said Khan. “They are our strength, heart and soul. We need their love and support, so we can provide this great nation with brave young men and women who can preserve our freedom.”

The Top Cats, though originally established during World War II from 1942 to 1945, was recommissioned in April 1948 and have flown numerous missions since. After more than 66 years in the service, the squadron is scheduled to decommission in April 2008. Khan will be the squadron’s last commanding officer.

Today, the Top Cats are on its final operational deployment, which began Jan. 2007. Utilizing the most capable S-3B “Viking” to date, the Top Cats continue to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

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