From staff reports
The Meridian Star
Training Squadron Seven will welcome a new commanding officer, Cmdr. Michael G. Hritz, on Friday, March 22, during an official change of command ceremony at 10 a.m. in Hangar One on board NAS Meridian.
Capt. Jeffrey L. Trent, Chief of Naval Operations Fellow, Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, will be the guest speaker during the ceremony where squadron personnel will bid farewell to Cmdr. Stephen Delanty, who has served as squadron CO since December 2011.
Cmdr. Delanty will receive the Meritorious Service Medal for outstanding meritorious achievement while serving as commanding officer of Training Squadron Seven from December 2011 to March 2013.
Under his guidance, VT-7 safely flew 21,355 sorties in the T-45C Goshawk, 22,909 flight hours, conducted 1,623 carrier arrested landings, designated 87 Naval Aviators, and trained 22 new instructor pilots.
Under Delanty's leadership, VT-7 exceeded all objective safety metrics, receiving a grade of Outstanding on the 2012 Chief of Naval Air Training Standardization and Safety Evaluation. His efforts culminated in VT-7 garnering the squadron's eighth consecutive CNO Aviation Safety Award.
Cmdr. Hritz will now lead the squadron where he was designated a Naval Aviator. After being commissioned an Ensign in July of 1995, he completed flight training at VT-7 in Meridian and then transferred to the S-3B Fleet Replacement Squadron, VS-41, at NAS North Island, Calif.
After completing training in the Viking, Cmdr. Hritz reported to VS-24 in February 2002. He deployed with the "Scouts" onboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in support of both Operations Southern Watch and Enduring Freedom.
In October 2002, he attended the Viking Tactics Instructor course and upon graduation reported to the Sea Control Weapons School where he served as T-34C NATOPS Instructor and Viking Tactics Instructor.
Cmdr. Hritz served with the Sea Control Weapons School until August of 2003 when he received a transition to the EA-6B and transferred to the Fleet Replacement Squadron, VAQ-129, at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.
In August of 2004, upon completion of Prowler training, he served with VAQ-132 as Assistant Operations Officer and Administrative Officer. He deployed with the "Scorpions" onboard USS Kennedy (CV-67) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. In July of 2005, while still attached to VAQ-132, he reported to the Organization for the Administrative Review of the Detention of Enemy Combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, for an Individual Augmentation assignment.
In June of 2006, Cmdr. Hritz reported to the "Patriots" of VAQ-140 where he served as the Administrative Officer and Operations Officer. He deployed with VAQ-140 onboard USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
In December 2008, he graduated from the Prowler Tactics Instructor course and reported to the Electronic Attack Weapons School where he served as Training Officer.
Cmdr. Hritz reported to the Eagles of VT-7 as Executive Officer in December 2011.
He has over 3,000 flight hours and 450 carrier landings. He has been awarded the Air Medal (4 strike/flight awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (2 awards) and other unit and service awards.
Cmdr. Delanty's next assignment will be Carrier Strike Group One Air Operations Officer onboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).