Cdr. Dan Pugh is “piped over” by the side boys, saluted by Cdr. Anthony Wu during a Change of Command ceremony at Hangar 34 on Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., on June 2. (photo courtesy US Navy)
The “Minutemen” of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron FIVE FIVE (VR-55) held their Change of Command at Hangar 34 on Naval Base Ventura County Saturday, June 2.
Cdr. Dan Pugh, son of Cazenovia residents Bob and Glenda Pugh, was relieved by Cdr. Anthony Wu in a tradition-laden ceremony Saturday morning. Attendees included the squadron’s 275 sailors, former commanding officers and Fleet Logistics Wing Commodore Cpt. Dan Baker.
“I’m honored and humbled to speak here today,” Baker said. “This is my number one C-130 squadron. This is the best of the best here at VR-55. This squadron answers the call every time I ask and they do it better than I could have ever expected.”
Pugh led the squadron for 22 months, presiding over a challenging time in Minuteman history. As operational commitments piled up, a fleet-wide grounding of all C-130s and supply shortages hampered the fleet logistics community.
Despite the adversity, Pugh led the Minutemen to win the Fleet Logistics Wing’s 2018 “Battle ‘E’” ribbon as the top squadron in the wing for the seventh time in the command’s 42-year history.
Under Pugh’s leadership, VR-55 transported 5.4 million pounds of cargo and amassed 3,700 flight hours across 34 overseas detachments in support of Naval forces worldwide.
“This has been hands-down the most personally and professionally rewarding experience of my life,” Pugh told the assembled sailors and families. “You have taken this squadron to new heights and you should be justifiably proud of what you’ve accomplished.”
In addition to overseeing 88 promotions and a 96% retention rate, Pugh secured long-awaited funds to overhaul the squadron’s aging facilities. The ceremony was the first to be held in the newly renovated spaces.
“What you see on the outside pales in comparison to what (Pugh) has done for the personal and professional development of our sailors,” Wu said as he took charge of the squadron for the first time.
After serving for nearly two years in a position that traditionally turns over every 14-15 months, Pugh looked back to the trials and successes that marked his tenure.
“In addition to your operational success, it is extremely rewarding to see you succeed personally and professionally,” Pugh said. “Our command philosophy of ‘people first, mission always and professionalism in everything that we do’ is one that we live by every day, and it shows.”
Flying the C-130T and KC-130-T-30 from NBVC at Point Mugu, the Minutemen are the Navy’s only short-notice, emergent heavy lift squadron on the West Coast. Founded as the Navy Reserve’s first jet aviation squadron in 1976, the “Bicentennial Minutemen” operated the C-9 Skytrain from NAS Alameda. In 1993, VR-55 transitioned to the C-130 Hercules airframe and moved operations to NAS Point Mugu in 1998. To date, VR-55 has flown 167,536 hours without a class “A” mishap.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.