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    Training Squadron 35 holds Change of Command aboard NAS Corpus Christi

    VT-35 Changes Command aboard NAS Corpus Christi

    Photo By Anne Owens | CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (Aug. 14, 2020) - Outgoing Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Brian...... read more read more



    Story by Anne Owens 

    Chief of Naval Air Training

    The “Stingrays” of Training Squadron (VT) 35 held a change-of-command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Chrisit, Texas, August 14.

    Navy Cmdr. Bjorn “Curious” Anderson relieved Marine Lt. Col. Brian “Heed” Dennis as commanding officer during a ceremony held in the VT-35 hangar aboard NAS Corpus Christi.

    Dennis, a native of Tampa, Florida, assumed command of VT-35 in June of 2019. During his tenure, Dennis oversaw a cadre of around 32 instructors dedicated to training Navy and Marine Corps aviators. More than 205 pilots received their Wings of Gold under his leadership.

    “I am tremendously proud of our Stingray team and what we’ve been able to accomplish in my time here,” said Dennis. “I am incredibly thankful to all of our instructor pilots and our cadre of civilian employees who put so much into this organization every single day.

    “In spite of all the current challenges we face with the pandemic, our team is currently ahead on fiscal-year production and scheduled to again make mission, providing the fleet with the winged naval aviators they desperately need in order to go forward and ensure our national security objectives are met. I’d also like to recognize and thank the superb team of maintenance professionals who provide us safe and ready aircraft every day. Without them, we could not do any of this. Finally, I’m so thankful for the families that steadfastly support our Stingrays. They do so much behind the scenes to ensure our instructors, students, and staff can focus on the challenging mission we take part in daily. Being a part of this team is the highlight of my career, and I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity to have been a skipper here and to have worked with such dedicated and talented professionals.”

    Commodore, Training Air Wing 4 Capt. Jeremy “Screamer" Rifas presided over the small ceremony. “Dennis is an impressive officer,” said Rifas. “He cares about his people and I know they appreciate that. His leadership is reflected in the squadron’s accomplishments including receiving the CNATRA Towers Award, the CNO Safety Award 2019 and winged more than 200 naval aviators. This is an officer who leads from the front.”

    Dennis, a graduate of the University of South Florida, received his Wings of Gold in 2000. He served with various fleet squadrons including the “Death Rattlers’” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VFMA) 323 and the “Black Knights” of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VFMA) 314. While assigned to the Death Rattlers, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom aboard the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), and with the Black Knights, he deployed to the Al Asad, Iraq and to Japan/PACOM AOR in support of the Unit Deployment Program (UDP). Dennis then served a three-year Joint Staff tour at United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) before becoming the Executive Officer of Marine Aircraft Group 12 in Japan before being selected for command. Dennis has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours, of which over 2,200 in the F/A-18 Hornet. Following his tour at VT-35, Dennis will be retiring after having served in the military since 1991, first as a Reconnaissance Marine for six years.

    Anderson, a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, earned his Wings of Gold in 2005. He served with the “Grey Knights” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 46 deploying in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Odyssey Dawn. In 2009, Anderson reported to the Pro’s Nest of VP-30 to serve as a FRS (Fleet Replacement Squadron) instructor before being selected for U.S. Navy Test Pilot School in 2011. After graduation he reported to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 testing the P-3, P-8 and EP-3 aircraft. Anderson then served as a department head for the “Mad Foxes” of VP-5 for 2 years in 2015. After which, he reported to Command & Control, Computers, and Communication (C4) and Cyberspace Operations for the European Command before screening for command. Anderson has accumulated over 2,700 hours in various military aircraft.

    Lt. Col. Clarke Groefsema, a native of Lemoore, California, will assume the role of executive officer. Groefsema earned his Wings of Gold in 2005. He completed two operational tours with the “Raiders” of VMGR-352 and has accumulated more than 2,700 hours in the C-130.

    VT-35 trains the highest quality aviators for service in the fleet and operation forces. Its personnel include 16 active-duty and 16 reserve instructor pilots who train a group of more than 80 naval aviators at a given time. During Dennis’ tour as commanding officer, VT-35 accumulated 14,759 mishap-free flight hours over 6,835 flights and was awarded the CNATRA Towers Award, the CNATRA (Advanced) Training Excellence Award, and the CNO Aviation Safety Award.



    Date Taken: 08.14.2020
    Date Posted: 08.14.2020 19:33
    Story ID: 376061
    Location: CORPUS CHRISTI, TX, US 

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