3-Mar-2021 Source: US Air Force
Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 25 held a change of command ceremony Thursday, February 18.
Cmdr. Thomas “Smokey” Butts relieved Cmdr. Christopher “Chunk” Carreon in a hybrid ceremony that was both virtually streamed and attended in-person by immediate family, ceremony staff, and key personnel. Commander, Joint Region Marianas (JRM) Rear Adm. John Menoni presided over the ceremony.
“I am humbled for the opportunity to be here to play a small part in one of the most time-honored traditions in our great Navy. It is also very special for me as I have a lot of history with this command as well as Cmdrs. Carreon and Butts,” said Menoni.
Menoni served with Helicopter Combat Support (HC) Squadron FIVE, the predecessor to HSC 25 and would later return to Guam as the Commanding Officer of HSC-25 where both Carreon and Butts were junior officers in his wardroom.
“I know personally how difficult the job can be on a day-to-day basis, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic. When called on by the people of Guam for help, whether it was a search and rescue (SAR), medical evacuation (MEDEVAC) or fire, your team was always on point,” said Menoni. As an island military community, we have gone through one of the toughest years in recent memory. The pandemic has challenged us in ways we could have never anticipated. But, I want to say how proud I am of this squadron, all of its Sailors, and our families and teammates.”
In the last year, under Cmdr. Carreon’s leadership, HSC 25 was tasked to support the U.S. Coast Guard Sector Guam, JRM, and U.S. 7th Fleet in support of SAR, MEDEVAC, and firefighting operations throughout Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. They also provided support and training, for Explosive Ordnance Demolition Mobile Unit 5, SEAL Teams 3 and 5, Coastal Riverine Groups 1 and 2, VMFA-121, VAQ-138, and several international partner nations to include Australia, Republic of Korea, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand.
Additionally, HSC-25 had members and assets participate in exercises Cope North, Cobra Gold, NOL SWATT, Phoenix Fire, Machete Green, Pacific Vanguard, Valiant Shield, 31st MEU AIT/CERTEX, Spartan Flex, Dawn Strike, and Pacific Griffin SINKEX.
“I want to say thank you to all my Island Knight Sailors. We’ve done so much over the past 15 months. Over 11,000 flight hours, 44 SARs and MEDEVACs, have been logged saving 53 lives. You did that, not me,” said Carreon. “You won the Golden Wrench, provided support to underway units, earned the Navy Blue “H” and “M,” and Navy Retention awards. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of Sailors. I’ll never forget this tour. Thank you so much for the memories.”
Cmdr. Carreon’s next assignment is in Naples, Italy as 6th Fleet’s Staff Planning and Flight Operations Safety Officer.
“This morning you have heard several recent examples of how this squadron has led the way for our community, the Naval Aviation Enterprise, our Navy and our great Nation. I assure you that we will continue to build upon this great record of accomplishments and lead the way,” Cmdr. Butts remarked in his address to the congregation. “My promise to you is that I will bring my best every day. In return, all I ask is that you bring your best. I am proud to be an Island Knight and serve by your side. It is the greatest honor of my career to be your Commanding Officer.”
CDR Butts is a native of Erlanger, Kentucky. He enlisted in the Navy in 1995 as a Radioman and was later selected for the Enlisted Commissioning Program. He graduated from the University of North Florida, earning a Bachelor of Science in Communications. Cmdr. Butts was designated a Naval Aviator in December 2004 and has accumulated over 2,400 flight hours in the MH-60S Knighthawk and other training aircraft throughout his career.
HSC-25 is the Navy’s only forward deployed MH-60S expeditionary squadron. They provide and armed helicopter capability for U.S. 7th Fleet as well as detachments to various commands covering a diverse mission set.