10-Dec-2021 Source: US Navy
The “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) 78 welcomed a new commanding officer, Cmdr. Justin Eckhoff, a native of Wilbraham, Mass., as he relieved Cmdr. Jeremiah Ragadio, a native of San Francisco, during a change of command fly-over of USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Nov. 29.
Ragadio assumed command of the “Blue Hawks” in September 2020, and beginning June 2021 led the squadron through a pre-deployment workup training cycle and into real-world contingency operations, including a current Western Pacific Deployment.
“Leading the ‘Blue Hawks’ over these past 15 months, especially at sea where it matters the most, has been one of the greatest honors of my life,” said Ragadio. “Seeing the squadron come from where it was to where it is now, developing personally and professionally into the Sailors and warfighters they are today, flourishing on deployment, was awe-inspiring. But what I am most proud of was to be part of this ‘Blue Hawk’ family, serving alongside the finest men and women in the United States Navy.”
Eckhoff said he looks forward to leading HSM-78 through the remainder of the squadron’s deployment, and beyond.
“It is an honor to lead this amazing team of ‘Blue Hawk’ Sailors,” said Eckhoff. “Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic leading into an early departure for deployment, this squadron has achieved, and will continue to achieve excellence, due to our vigilant professionalism, enthusiasm, and teamwork. We are operating at peak levels from aboard USS Carl Vinson, USS Lake Champlain, USS Chafee, and USS Stockdale supporting the ‘Air Wing of the Future’ and the missions of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1.”
Prior to commanding HSM-78, Eckhoff was the special operations branch chief, J-3 directorate, United States European Command.
Capt. Tommy F. Locke, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, presided over the ceremony.
“Cmdr. Jeremiah Ragadio did an awesome job preparing HSM-78 for deployment and leading them during our time in the Western Pacific,” said Locke. “Cmdr. Justin Eckhoff is ready to lead the Blue Hawk team. I am excited to watch him take HSM-78 to even greater heights.”
Based out of San Diego, the “Blue Hawks” of helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) 78 squadron is made of MH-60R helicopters capable of delivering anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and electronic warfighting tactics.