JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — This morning one of Naval Station Mayport’s female aviators turned over her job -- as a Squadron commanding officer of a helicopter unit designed to defend U.S. waters -- to another woman! that’s a first.
The commander’s departure turned out to be a celebration for those who work at Mayport’s Naval Base.
Typically, one would think that losing a commanding officer who helps defend U.S. Waters would be a sad occasion.
Instead, this morning’s ceremony was filled with laughter and smiles because for the first time Naval Station Mayport had a female duo that led one its helicopter squadrons.
“I joined the Navy because I wanted to be the best pilot,” Commander Peterson said.
This is now, former Commanding Officer Carolyn Peterson of the United States Navy who has nearly 20 years of flight experience.
Up until today she was the woman in charge of Naval Station Mayport’s Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron five zero otherwise known as HSM-50.
It’s an aircraft used in the Navy that helps defend United States waters against terrorist and other types of danger at sea.
“What I learned as I joined the Navy is it’s not about what I want to do it’s about who enables me to make it happen,” Peterson said.
The new Commanding Officer of Naval Station Mayport’s HSM-50 is Commander Katie Lunser of the U.S. Navy.
Commander Lunser has over 15 years of flight experience. She says taking on this new chapter of life is a personal challenge but nonetheless an honor to defend the country she loves so dearly.
“It’s an honor, the fact that I’m here and have the opportunity is humbling,” Lunser said.
Commander Peterson served as the commanding officer of HSM-50 from October 2021 to June of 2023. She says she’s excited to guide Commanding Officer Lunser as she gains her new wings.
Commander Peterson and Commander Lunser both say this is an easy transition not just because the two agree that one another is well qualified for the job. But also, because the two are friends outside of the Navy and have been since 2010.
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