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Blue Angels Welcome New Boss

Fresh off their season-ending performance over NAS Pensacola, the
Blue Angels welcomed a new boss on Sunday at the National Museum of
Naval Aviation.
The hour-long ceremony, filled with Navy
traditions, said goodbye to Captain Tom Frosch and greeted Commander
Ryan Bernacchi, who takes over for the next two seasons. Rear Admiral
Michael White told the packed atrium that these days, there are a number
of debates over the Blues’ return on investment, especially if
recruiting is up after a show.
“We put millions of dollars into
airplanes [and] extremely talented maintenance technicians and gifted
aviators to every air show,” said White. “Every time we go out to our
citizens, fewer and fewer are coming to sign up and wear the cloth of
their nation. The divide between the military and civilians in the
United States is growing.”
In a sometimes emotional address,
Capt. Tom Frosh expressed his gratitude to family and friends, for
helping get him into the cockpit of the Number 1 jet. Then Frosch
reflected on leading the Blues since 2012, echoing one predecessor who
called the team a “national treasure.”
“When you come here, I
don’t think you appreciate it as much until you’re on the team for a
while and you see how special it is to so many people,” Frosch said. “We
don’t own the Blue Angels; the people do, America does. We’re stewards
of the treasure.”
Frosch also had praise for his successor, and the priorities that Ryan Bernacchi brought to the application process.
“He
didn’t ask about the demo (performance), he didn’t ask about the
flying. He asked about the people,” said Frosch. “He was the only guy
that asked if ‘I could go out and see some of the guys.’ He wanted to go
meet the Command Master Chief; he wanted to meet sailors who were
working on jets. That just spoke volumes to me.”
After the
official change of command orders were read, the new boss took the
podium, and welcomed everyone to the 2016 edition of the Blues – after
working with the team for the past few months.
“We have a massive
task ahead of us, just as every team has had as it commences a new
season,” said Bernacchi. “This process began its 70th cycle [Saturday] night, and has always been accomplished through a pledge every Blue
Angel makes: ‘As a Blue Angel, I will dedicate my efforts to pride,
professionalism, and perfection.’”
Bernacchi comes from serving a
strategy and national security fellowship at MIT in Boston, and has the
requisite 3,000 flight hours and 600 arrested carrier landings. He told
those attending Sunday that through their F/A-18 Hornets, the Blue
Angels are truly about people.
“The people that are here today;
the teams that have gone before us, this team, this family, this
community,” said Bernacchi. “And the countless people, but especially
the young ones, that we will get a chance to interact with and perhaps
inspire in the coming years.”
And now it’s on to El Centro,
California to train for 2016. The 68-performance season kicks off March
12 over El Centro. The Blues are scheduled to fly over Pensacola Beach
July 16, and over NAS Pensacola November 11-12.

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