Amidst the trappings of a time honored Navy ceremony – but with a unique twist, Cmdr. Jennifer Whereatt, USN, will hand over command of Training Squadron TWO to Cmdr. Juan Lopez, USCG, on July 26 at Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
Celebrating their aviation backgrounds, the two officers will formally change command in the air while flying T-6B “Texan IIs”, but will land and taxi to the North Field hangar where the honors, ceremonies, and speechmaking will occur.
Under Whereatt, the “Doerbirds” flew more than 39,000 flight hours and completed in excess of 24,000 events culminating in the completion of 502 Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Allied pilots through primary flight training. Her leadership helped earn the squadron the 2011 Chief of Naval Operation Safety Award as well as a Meritorious Unit Commendation. She also implemented procedures to aid in the completion of the transition from the T-34C “Turbo Mentor” to T-6B “Texan II” aircraft enabling the unit to exceed Chief of Naval Air Training student goals and helping to create flexibility for other squadrons during their transition.
After gaining her commission from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1994, Whereatt completed flight training and earned her Wings in 1996. She reported to Patrol Squadron SIXTEEN in Jacksonville, Fla. in June the following year. Following tours took her to Patrol Squadron THIRTY for Instructor Duty; to Special Projects Patrol Squadron ONE in Brunswick, Maine in August 2003; and Patrol Squadron TWO for Department Head duty. She joined the staff of the Office of the Secretary of Defense for Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict and Interdependent Capabilities in 2007.
Lopez assumes the top spot after serving as the executive officer for about 15 months.
A native of Yauco, Puerto Rico, Lopez enlisted in the U.S. Air Force in October 1987 and served as an Aerospace Ground Equipment Mechanic at Norton Air Force Base, CA. After earning a Bachelor of Science and an MBA in Management during his off duty time, he attended Coast Guard Officer Candidate School in Yorktown, Va. Following graduation from OCS in September 1992, he was assigned to Coast Guard Headquarters as a Financial Policy Analyst.
Lopez reported for flight training at Naval Air Station Pensacola in 1994 and received his wings of gold in July 1996. His first duty station was Coast Guard Air Station Houston, TX, where he flew the HH-65A Dolphin. He then served with an assortment of duty stations from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Fla., Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, PR, and in November 2007, Lopez led as Officer in Charge of rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Noel in the Dominican Republic. His final stop before transferring to VT-2 was as the chief pilot and operations officer of Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron (HITRON) in Jacksonville, Fla. Lopez has accumulated 4,700 flight hours and has participated in over 300 Search and Rescue missions and 23 deployments in support of law enforcement operations.
The incoming executive officer will be Cmdr. Thaddeus Withers.
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