Last For Any Squadron Deployed Aboard The USS Enterprise
The Checkmates of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 held an airborne change of command ceremony in the skies over deployed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) May 7. Cmdr. John Bixby relieved Cmdr. James A. McCall as commanding officer (CO), as both flew in F/A-18F Super Hornets, assigned to VFA-211. They read their orders, with McCall giving the final flight lead to Bixby as they flew over Enterprise.
"Now it's just a matter of taking the baton from Cmdr. McCall and keeping the squadron going down the right path," said Bixby. "As one man, I cannot change how well the squadron performs, it's a matter of all 250 of our people doing what they do, and have been doing, to get the job done."
This deployment will be the final deployment for any squadron embarked aboard Enterprise, as the ship is scheduled to be decommissioned following its return to homeport in Norfolk, Va., making this the last in-flight change of command the Checkmates will have over Enterprise. "I'm an aviator, so anything we can do in a jet is better than something we can do on the ground, and I'm all for that," said Bixby.
When asked his departing thoughts, McCall stated that leaving while his squadron was still flying combat missions was the best way he could think to depart. "As for the Checkmates, it has been the greatest honor of my career to lead this team. It's made up of a tremendous group of Sailors who are dedicated to their craft and our country," said McCall. "I know Americans can sleep safely at night with this team out here doing what we're doing today."
Shortly after the ceremony, McCall departed Enterprise to report to his new command, Joint Theater Air and MSL DEF ORG. With the completion of the change of command, VFA-211 pilots will continue to fly combat missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.
ANN Salutes Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman, Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs (Photo: USS Enterprise courtesy U.S. Navy)