Having reached numerous milestones in their 69-year history, the United States Navy’s Blue Angels have come to yet another momentous event in welcoming their first ever executive officer.
Cmdr. Bob Flynn, previously assigned to the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., joined the flight demonstration squadron in November 2014.
“Cmdr. Flynn has been a fantastic addition to the team and having an executive officer has allowed our leadership structure as a whole to better reflect naval aviation,” said Lt. j.g. Amber Lynn Daniel, U.S. Navy public affairs officer.
Originally from New Jersey, Flynn graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992. As a naval flight officer, he attended flight school at Pensacola NAS and served in an S-3 Viking, a carrier-based anti-submarine airplane.
He later returned to Pensacola as a flight instructor during which time he applied for the Blue Angels’ number eight position, the events coordinator, but did not make the team. Following his time at Pensacola NAS, he attended the War College as a student, served two tours in Iraq then returned to the War College as a professor. Then in early 2014, the opportunity for Flynn to be a Blue Angel presented itself again.
“I thought I was done with aviation and I thought I was going to retire, but this opportunity came up and I jumped on it,” he said.
While the Navy’s mandate that the Blue Angels get an executive officer came in the wake of a high profile misconduct case, Flynn’s position isn’t new within the branch. Every other Navy branch but the Blue Angels had such a position.
“One reason why it was important to have an XO this year is because we’d like to make a process where there’s an experienced boss in their second year… and a first-year XO,” Flynn said. “And that’s really normal in the Navy or any service, where you’d want to have experienced people swapping out, and one of my jobs would be to help the boss get acclimated to the job.”
Once the decision to move forward with the hiring of an executive officer was made, Flynn was hand picked for the team.
“Cmdr. Flynn is incredible,” Daniel said. “This is the first year the Blue Angels have had an executive officer and its been a phenomenal transition.”
Flynn’s job is essentially to guide the pilots and maintenance crews in their military manners on the ground in sort of the same way the team’s “Boss,” Capt. Thomas Frosch, leads them during aerial maneuvers.
As XO, Flynn is tasked with administrative duties including overseeing communications and being in the air control tower as a safety officer.
While Flynn’s personal goals are being a supportive XO and teammate, his team goals include having a successful 2015 season with the pilots flying safely, reaching out to the community, and representing the Navy and the Marine Corps members the best way possible.
“When I got here, the team was operating at an extremely high level,” Flynn said. “So there was nothing that needed to be fixed when I arrived. But this team is all about the pursuit of excellence so even if you’re doing extremely well, you always are looking for ways to improve.”
Flynn said for the Blue Angels, every show, practice and interaction with people in a community is important. So being successful is a huge goal and accomplishment when you can uphold the tradition that all the Navy and Marine Corps members and past Blue Angels team members have given the current team.
“When we get up and put this uniform on every day, we’re trying to earn the trust of everyone in the Navy and the Marine Corps as well as past team members, and keep this tradition going,” he said.