Blue Angels News

BLUE ANGELS OFFICERS




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faq-04

A total of 17 officers voluntarily serve with the Blue Angels. Each year the team typically selects three tactical (fighter or fighter/attack) jet pilots, two support officers and one Marine Corps C-130 pilot to relieve departing members.

#1 | CDR RYAN J. BERNACCHI | USN

// Flight Leader / Commanding Officer

01-bernacchiCommander Ryan Bernacchi is a native of Los Altos, California and graduated from Mountain View High School in 1992, where he lettered in water polo and swimming. He attended the University of California, San Diego, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 1996, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Ryan reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in November 1996. He completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, and completed intermediate and advanced flight training in the T-2C Buckeye and T-45C Goshawk at NAS Meridian, Mississippi. He received his wings of gold in April 1999.

Ryan then reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 125, the “Rough Raiders,” at NAS Lemoore, California, for initial training in the F/A-18 Hornet. Ryan reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113, the “Stingers,” at NAS Lemoore, in January 2000, where he served as the Aircraft Division Officer, Air-to-Air Weapons Training Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, and Landing Signals Officer. Ryan completed two Western Pacific/Arabian Gulf deployments with …   FULL BIO

#2 | LT DAMON KROES | USN

// Right Wing

02-kroesLieutenant Damon Kroes is a native of Fremont, California, and graduated from Moreau Catholic High School in June 2000 where he lettered in soccer, swimming, and cross country. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, in September 2000.

While assigned to Alpha Company, 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion at Camp Pendleton, California, Damon attended San Diego State University and graduated in May 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science with a Minor in History. As a reservist in college, Damon was called to active duty in May 2002 and deployed to South America as part of MARFOR UNITAS 43-02 from July to December, 2002. Selected to serve with the UNITAS Reconnaissance Detachment, Damon conducted bilateral training exercises alongside special operations units from the Dominican Republic, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Brazil.

In February 2003, Damon was again called to active duty and deployed as a Light Armored Vehicle (LAV-25) scout in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom with both Alpha and Delta Companies of the 4th Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion from April to September 2003. In September 2005 Damon reported to Echo Company, 2nd Battalion …  FULL BIO

#3 | LT NATE SCOTT | USN

// Left Wing

03-scottLieutenant Nate Scott is a native of Danville, California and graduated from Monte Vista High School in 2003. He attended the University of Southern California, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2007, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Nate reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in August 2007. He completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor at NAS Corpus Christ, Texas, and completed intermediate and advanced flight training in the T-45C Goshawk at NAS Meridian, Mississippi. He received his wings of gold in November 2009.

Nate then reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, the “Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, for initial training in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Nate reported to VFA-103, the “Jolly Rogers,” at NAS Oceana in November 2010, where he served as the Landing Signals Officer, Air-to-Surface Weapons Training Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, Naval Air Training and Operation Procedures Standardization Officer, and Mess Officer. Nate completed two Arabian Gulf …  FULL BIO

#4 | LT LANCE BENSON | USN

// Slot

04-bensonLieutenant Lance Benson is a native of McPherson, Kansas, and graduated from McPherson High School in 2002, where he lettered in football. He attended Kansas State University (KSU), Salina, Kansas, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Airway Science with a Minor in Business in May 2006. After serving as a Flight instructor at KSU for three years, Lance reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Lance Reported to NAS Pensacola for aviation indoctrination in November 2006. He completed primary flight training in the T-6 Texan II at Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma, and completed intermediate and advanced flight training in the T-45C Goshawk at NAS Meridian, Mississippi. He received his wings of gold in March 2009.

Lance then reported to Training Squadron (VT) 9, the “Tigers,” at NAS Meridian as an instructor pilot. He reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, the “Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, in April 2010 for initial training in the F/A-18F Super Hornet.

Lance reported to Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 22, the “Fighting Redcocks,” at NAS Lemoore, California, in …  FULL BIO

#5 | CDR FRANK WEISSER | USN

// Lead Solo

05-weisserCommander Frank Weisser is a native of Atlanta and graduated from North Springs High School in 1996, where he lettered in football and track. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics in 2000, and was commissioned as an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Frank reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in October 2000. He completed primary flight training in the T-34C Mentor at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, and completed advanced flight training in the T-2C Buckeye and T-45C Goshawk at NAS Meridian, Mississippi. He received his wings of gold in November 2002.

Frank was chosen as a Selectively Retained Graduate and remained with Training Squadron (VT) 7, the “Eagles,” at NAS Meridian as an instructor pilot for the T-45C. While assigned to VT-7, he served as the Squadron Facilities Manager and Schedules Officer. In June 2004, Frank reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106, the “Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, for initial training in the F/A-18C Hornet.

Frank then reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, the “Golden Warriors,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, in April 2005, where he served as Schedules Officer, Avionics/Armament (AV/ARM) Division Officer, Naval Air Training and …  FULL BIO

#6 | LT TYLER DAVIES | USN

// Opposing Solo

06-daviesLieutenant Tyler Davies is a native of Kennesaw, Georgia, and graduated from North Cobb High School in June 2000. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, in August 2000.

Tyler completed Aviation Electronics Technician “A” School at Naval Aviation Technical Training Center, Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, and reported to NAS Oceana, Virginia, for Radar Communications (RADCOM) “C” school. Upon completion of RADCOM training, he reported to Aviation Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD), NAS Oceana, in June 2001. While assigned to AIMD Oceana, he completed deployments aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in support of multiple NATO operations.

Tyler reported to Fleet Readiness Center (FRC) Southwest Site Point Mugu, California, in September 2004, where he served in the Avionics Division. In 2007, he was selected as FRC Southwest Site Point Mugu and Commander Airborne Early Warning Wing Sailor of the Year. While assigned to FRC, Tyler attended the University of La Verne, Riverside, California, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management in May 2007. He then reported …  FULL BIO

#7 | LT BRANDON HEMPLER | USN

// Narrator

07-hemplerLieutenant Brandon Hempler is a native of Wamego, Kansas, and graduated from Wamego High School in 2002, where he lettered in cross country. He attended Kansas State University (KSU), Salina, Kansas, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Airway Science in May 2007. After serving as a flight instructor at KSU for a semester, Brandon reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for Officer Candidate School and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Brandon reported to NAS Pensacola for aviation indoctrination in October 2007. He completed primary flight training in the T-6 Texan II at Vance Air Force Base, Enid, Oklahoma, and completed intermediate and advanced flight training in the T-45C Goshawk at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He received his wings of gold in November 2009.

Brandon then reported to Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 106, the “Gladiators,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, in January 2010 for initial training in the F/A-18E Super Hornet. He reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 31, the “Tomcatters,” at NAS Oceana, in November 2010, where he served as Schedules Officer, Line Division Officer, Naval Air Training and Operation Procedures Standardization Officer, Assistant Operations Officer, and Landing Signal …  FULL BIO

#8 | LT DAVE STEPPE | USN

// Events Coordinator

08-steppeLieutenant Dave Steppe is a native of Birmingham, Alabama, and graduated from Vestavia Hills High School in 2004, where he lettered in football. He attended Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Logistics through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps in 2008, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Dave then reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination. He completed Naval Flight Officer training in the T-6 Texan, T-1 Jayhawk, T-39 Saberliner, and the T-45 Goshawk. He received his wings of gold in August 2010. Dave reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the “Vikings”, at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, for initial training in the E/A-18G Growler. He then reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 141, the “Shadowhawks,” at NAS Whidbey Island, in October 2011, where he served as Electronic Warfare Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, Avionics/Armament Division Officer, Schedules Officer, and Joint Mission Planning System Subject Matter Expert.

While assigned to VAQ-141, Dave deployed with USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) and flew in support of Operation …  FULL BIO

CDR MATT KASLIK | USN

// Executive Officer

09-kaslikCommander Matt Kaslik is a native of The Woodlands, Texas, and graduated from McCullough High School in 1991, where he was captain of the varsity football team. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, where he lettered in varsity football, graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Oceanography in 1995, and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Matt reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in January 1996. He completed naval flight officer training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor, T-1 Jayhawk, T-39G/N Saberliner and the T-A4 Skyhawk. He received his wings of gold in June 1997.

Matt then reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the “Vikings,” at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington, for initial training in the EA-6B Prowler. He reported to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 135, the “Black Ravens,” at NAS Whidbey Island in August 1998, where he served as the Avionics/Armament Division Officer and Personnel Officer. While assigned to VAQ-135, Matt completed a Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf deployment with USS Carl Vinson …  FULL BIO

MAJ MARK HAMILTON | USMC

// C-130 “Fat Albert” Pilot

10-hamiltonMajor Mark Hamilton is a native of Becker, Minnesota, and graduated from Becker High School in 1996. He attended Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in 2000. Mark was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps in 2000 and reported to The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to complete training.

Mark reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in January 2001. He completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, and completed advanced flight training in the T-44 Pegasus while assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 31 at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. He received his wings of gold in May 2002.

Mark then reported to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Training Squadron (VMGRT) 253, the “Titans,” at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina, for initial training in the KC-130 Hercules. He reported to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252, “Otis,” at MCAS Cherry Point, in May 2003, where he served as Ground Safety Officer and Flight Duty Officer. While assigned to VMGR-252, Mark deployed twice to Al Asad, Iraq, in support …  FULL BIO

MAJ MARK MONTGOMERY | USMC

// C-130 “Fat Albert” Pilot

11-montgomeryMajor Mark Montgomery is a native of Cartersville, Georgia, and graduated from Cartersville High School in 1997, where he lettered in football, wrestling, and track. He attended the University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture in 2001. Mark was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps through the Platoon Leader’s Course in 2002 and reported to The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to complete training.

Mark reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in April 2003. He completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor with Training Squadron (VT) 2 at NAS Whiting Field, Florida, and completed intermediate and advanced training in the T-44 Pegasus while assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 31 at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. He received his wings of gold in September 2004.

Mark then reported to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Training Squadron (VMGRT) 253 the “Titans,” at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, North Carolina, for initial training in the KC-130 Hercules, where he served as a Flight Duty Officer. He reported to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 252, “Otis,” at MCAS Cherry Point, …  FULL BIO

MAJ KYLE MASCHNER | USMC

// C-130 “Fat Albert” Pilot

12-maschnerMajor Kyle Maschner is a native of Scottsdale, Arizona, and graduated from Horizon High School in 2001. He enlisted in the U.S Marine Corps, completed basic training at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in 2003, and served in the Marine Reserve as a Heavy Equipment Engineer Operator with Bulk Fuel Company Alpha and Charlie until 2006. He then attended Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel and Restaurant Management in 2006. Kyle was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps through the Platoon Leader’s Course in 2006 and reported to The Basic School at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Virginia, to complete training.

Kyle reported to Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida, for aviation indoctrination in June 2007. He completed primary flight training in the T-34C Turbo Mentor with Training Squadron (VT) 27 and completed advanced training in the T-44C Pegasus while assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 31 at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. He received his wings of gold in January 2009.

Kyle then reported to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron (VMGR) 352, the “Raiders,” at Marine Corps Air …  FULL BIO

LT SAMUEL ROSE | USN

// Maintenance Officer

13-roseLieutenant Samuel Rose is a native of Whitehouse, Texas, and graduated from Whitehouse High School in 1998. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, in 1998.

Samuel completed Aviation Structural Mechanic (Structures) “A” School at Naval Aviation Technical Training Center, Pensacola, Florida, and reported to Strike Fighter Attack Squadron (VFA) 106, the “Gladiators,” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Cecil Field, Florida, where he served in the First Lieutenant, Line, and Airframes divisions.

Samuel reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, the “Bounty Hunters,” at NAS Oceana, Virginia, in 2001, where he served as Airframes and Line Supervisor. While assigned to VFA-2, he completed two deployments to the Western Pacific/Arabian Gulf aboard USS Constellation (CVN 64) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and Southern Watch.

Samuel was selected to join the Blue Angels at NAS Pensacola in November 2004, and served as Airframes Leading Petty Officer, Quality Assurance Representative, and a Jet Assisted Take-Off (JATO) Safety Observer.

Samuel reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 102, the “Diamondbacks,” at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, in …  FULL BIO

LT JUAN GUERRA | USN

// Flight Surgeon

14-guerraLieutenant Juan Guerra is a native of Ocala, Florida, and graduated from Forest High School in 2003, where he lettered in soccer and tennis. He attended Central Florida Community College and graduated with an Associate in Arts in 2005. Juan then attended the University of South Florida, Tampa, Florida, and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology with honors in 2007. He was accepted into the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences F. Edward Hebert School of Medicine, commissioned an Ensign in the in the U.S. Navy, and graduated with an M.D. in 2011.

Juan reported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Bethesda, Maryland, where he completed a Transitional Internship in 2012. He was then accepted to the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute and received his Naval Flight Surgeon wings in February 2013.

Juan then reported to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, “Team Factory,” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, Virginia, where he served as the Flight Surgeon, and provided medical care to more than 200 aircrew and 2,000 Sailors. While assigned to CVW-8, Juan served on training detachments to NAS Key West, Florida, and NAS Fallon, Nevada. He then deployed …  FULL BIO

LT BRYAN PACE | USN

// Supply Officer

15-paceLieutenant Bryan Pace is a native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and graduated from Boston College High School in 2002. He attended Mount Ida College Newton, Massachusetts, where he graduated with an Associate of Science in Funeral Service in 2004. He then attended the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies. Bryan reported to Officer Candidate School at Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, in November 2010 and was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Bryan reported to Navy Supply Corps School, Newport, Rhode Island, in March 2011, where he completed the Basic Qualification Course, Department Head Course, and Department Head Leadership Course. He then reported to Naval Submarine School Groton, Connecticut, where he completed the Submarine Officer Basic Course. He then reported to USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) (Blue) at Naval Submarine Base, Kings Bay, Georgia, where he served as Supply Officer and earned his qualification as a Submarine Supply Corps Officer. During his time in the silent service, he completed three strategic deterrent patrols and provided logistical, financial, and support services.

Bryan then reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, Eglin Air Force Base, Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in June …  FULL BIO

LT JOE HONTZ | USN

// Public Affairs Officer

16-hontzLieutenant Joe Hontz is a native of Longmont, Colorado, and graduated from Lyons High School in 1996, where he lettered in football, baseball, and basketball. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, in February 1998.

Joe completed Hospital Corpsman “A” School at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois and served five years. He then attended the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2006. Joe then reported to Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island, for Officer Candidate School and in June 2008 was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Navy.

Joe reported to Surface Warfare Officer School, Newport, Rhode Island, in July 2008, where he completed the Basic Qualification Course. He then reported to USS Vella Gulf (CG 72), at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, where he served as the Ordnance Officer. While assigned to CG-72, Joe completed a seven-month deployment with Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group to the Arabian Gulf. He was then assigned to USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) as the Assistant …  FULL BIO

LTJG TIMOTHY HAWKINS | USN

// Administrative Officer

17-hawkinsLieutenant Junior Grade Tim Hawkins is a native of Scranton, Pennsylvania, and graduated from Bishop Hannan High School in 1998. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and completed basic training at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois, in March 2000.

Tim then attended the Engineering Common Core School and reported to USS Enterprise (CVN 65), where he was promoted under the Command Advancement Program to Electrician’s Mate Second Class in June 2004. He then reported to Navy Recruiting District Philadelphia in February 2005 and was spot promoted to Electrician’s Mate First Class while serving as Recruiter-in-Charge of Navy Recruiting Station Reading.

Tim was accepted for conversion to Navy Counselor and reported to Navy Counselor School in Norfolk, Virginia, in August 2008. He then reported to USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in October 2008 and while on board, was selected as Sailor of the Year and advanced to Chief Petty Officer.

Tim reported to Navy Information Operations Command Maryland in October 2012. He was selected for the Limited …  FULL BIO

 

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