DeKraai turns over command of HT-28 to Dulin

Published on June 27, 2017 with No Comments

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Helicopter Training Squadron TWENTY-EIGHT observed a time-honored Navy tradition Friday, June 9 as the Commanding Officer of the unit passed command to another officer in the Naval Air Station Whiting Field Atrium building.

The Change of Command ceremony enabled Cmdr. Robert Dulin to accept the reins of HT-28 from Lt. Col. Cory DeKraai in front of the assembled military personnel, family, and friends. DeKraai turned over command following a successful 15-month tour in charge of the Hellions.  However, it was a bittersweet moment for the Marine who admitted that the squadrons at the installation held fond memories for him.

Training Air Wing FIVE Commodore Capt. Mark Murray presents the Meritorious Service Medal to Lt. Col. Cory DeKraai for his work as the commanding officer of Helicopter Training Squadron TWENTY-EIGHT. DeKraai received the medal during the HT-28 change of command ceremony at NAS Whiting Field June 9. U.S. Navy photo by Ensign Benjamin Lascurain.

“Whiting Field will forever hold a special place for me,” he said. “As I wrap up my third tour here, I am going to miss the familiarity of having spent eight years of my career here.  Starting out as a Red Knight, earning my wings as an eight-baller, coming back to instruct for the Vigilant Eagles, and now leaving the Hellions, NAS Whiting field has touched the DeKraai family for the rest of our lives.”

Dekraai’s time at HT-28 is just the latest stop in a highly-successful career that started when he graduated from Michigan State University and was commissioned a 2nd Lt. in the Marine Corps.  He completed flight training at NAS Whiting Field and earned his Wings of gold in Aug. 1999.  He has since served tours flying the CH-46E helicopter with HMM-162 and MAG 29 at New River, N.C. and with MWSS-247 and MWSG-27 at Cherry Point, N.C.

Additionally, DeKraai served with HT-18 as a helicopter flight instructor, Expeditionary Warfare School as a Platoon Commander, United States Special Operations Command in Suffolk, Va., and Marine Corps Forces Command in Norfolk, Va.

As the commanding officer of HT-28, he continued a ten-year tradition of excellence in the cockpit and on the deckplates. The squadron received ‘Outstandings’ in every inspection and assessment, were recognized with CNATRA Best Practices, nominated for the 2016 CNATRA Training Excellence Award, and received the 2016 Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award.

The newest squadron at NAS Whiting Field, formed in 2007, has already established an identity and a culture of toughness, according to Training Air Wing FIVE Commodore Capt. Mark Murray.

“Your Hellions will go off to serve with distinction in our Marine Corps, the Navy and Coast Guard, and with our nation’s closest allies. They will be the lasting mark of your leadership and command.  While your squadron patch featured a torch to pass, your Hellions will actually grab the controls and do great things.  Those they help in the future will ‘Be Lucky,’” Murray said to DeKraai and the audience, referencing the squadron’s motto “Get Lucky.”

Murray presented DeKraai with the Meritorious Service Medal for his tour as executive officer and then commanding officer.

Murray then ceded the podium to DeKraai, who thanked his family, former shipmates, HT-28 staff, students and instructor pilots. Throughout it all, he reminded them all of the need to strive for the best in all things.

“No matter where we are, what we are doing, or who is there; whenever Hellions gather, we are going to do it right, take it to the limit, and let everyone know that no one does it better than us.”

He then stepped down from the stage with Dulin to perform his final act as HT-28’s Skipper.  He received the squadron pennant from the unit’s senior-most enlisted service member and presented it to the new commanding officer.  Dulin then stepped up to the microphone to read his official orders, and he addressed the squadron for the first time as their commanding officer.

As he thanked his family, co-workers, and friends for their support through the years, he had a special message for the “Hellions” team that he had worked with for the past 15 months as the squadron’s Executive Officer.

“I am so proud and honored for this opportunity to be your Commanding Officer,” he stated. “Your motivation, dedication, and leadership make this squadron the best in the wing, and I am in constant awe of the miraculous things you do.”

CDR Dulin steps into the commander’s chair after 28 years of military service. He started his career in 1990 as a Naval Aircrewman and Aviation Electrician’s Mate.  He was selected for the Aviation Enlisted commissioning Program in 1997 and earned his Naval Aviator’s Wings in 2000 after completing helicopter flight training with HT-8.

Following his initial training in the MH-53 helicopter, CDR Dulin served with Helicopter Combat Support Squadron FOUR in Sigonella, Sicily. He completed other tours with HC-2/HSC-2, USS Shreveport (LPD-12), HSC-28 and the United States Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Ill as a Branch Chief.  CDR Dulin also completed his Master of Business Administration in 2006 from the Naval Post Graduate School and attended the Naval War College, earning a Master’s in National Security and Strategic Studies.



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