Pavelko assumes command of Navy’s largest Training Air Wing

Special to Gannett

MILTON — Marine Col. Jeffrey M. Pavelko took command of Training Air Wing 5 (TAW5) during a change-of-command ceremony Sept. 18 onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton.

Navy Capt. Douglas W. Rosa relinquished command after serving 18 months as commodore of the Navy’s largest aviation training wing and will transfer to Naval Education and Training Command at NAS Pensacola.

Capt. Doug Rosa and his wife, Heather, stand for a photo in front of a TH-57 Sea Ranger training helicopter following a ceremony where he turned over command of the largest training air wing in the Navy.  He was commodore of Training Air Wing Five from March 2019 until Sept. 18, and will move to a position at the Naval Education and Training Command at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Marine Col. Jeffrey M. Pavelko took command of the wing in the modified ceremony.

Rosa’s leadership of three T-6B Texan II primary flight training squadrons, three TH-57B/C Sea Ranger advanced rotary-wing training squadrons and two flight instructor training units culminated in the execution of more than 101,000 sorties and 202,124 flight hours delivering 1,200 graduates to advanced flight training. Under his guidance, 726 naval aviators earned their Wings of Gold for the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, and international military partners.

Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) Rear Adm. Robert D. Westendorff served as the guest speaker for the event via teleconference from CNATRA headquarters in Corpus Christi, Texas. Westendorff oversees all undergraduate and postgraduate pilot, naval flight officer, and naval aircrewman training.

“Capt. Rosa is a stellar leader and aviator,” Westendorff said. “He has done an incredible job leading our team at Whiting Field. (TAW 5) conducts around 15 percent of the total flight hours for the entire Navy and around 43 percent of flight hours across all of CNATRA. I cannot understate the strategic importance of the mission there and tremendous impact Capt. Rosa’s work will have on the Naval Aviation community for many years to come.”

Capt. Doug Rosa, former Commodore for Training Air Wing 5, received the Legion of Merit award from Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Adm. Robert D. Westendorff. Westendorff served as the guest speaker for the event via teleconference from CNATRA headquarters in Corpus Christi, Texas. Rosa’s wife, Heather, presented the award to her husband during the ceremony where he turned over command of the largest training air wing in the Navy. Marine Col. Jeffrey M. Pavelko took command of the wing in a modified ceremony due to COVID-19 considerations.

Rosa directed and coordinated the efforts of more than 2,000 officers, enlisted, civilian, and contract personnel, consistently and safely executing the primary mission of training future military leaders and combat aviators.

Additionally, he established the Fleet Introduction Team for the new TH-73A Advanced Helicopter Training System, providing a clear pathway for all future Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard rotary training.

Westendorff awarded Rosa a Legion of Merit for superior performance during his tour.

Rosa enlisted in the Navy in 1984 and earned a Navy ROTC scholarship to Jacksonville University, Florida, in 1990 following a tour with Attack Squadron 81 (VA-81) at NAS Cecil Field, Florida. He commissioned in 1994 and was designated a naval aviator in April 1997.

Upon completion of the Navy MH-53E training with Marine Helicopter Training Squadron 302 (HMT-302), Marine Corps Air Station New River, North Carolina in 1997, Rosa reported to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron FOUR (HC-4), NAS Sigonella, Italy, and supported Operations Southern Watch, Desert Fox, and Noble Anvil. His subsequent sea duty assignment was aboard amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), Naval Station Norfolk, from 2003 to 2005, followed by his department head tour with HC-4 ending in 2007. He also spent time at Camp Buhering, Kuwait.

Capt. Doug Rosa (left) addresses a small audience of family members in the Training Air Wing 5 Commodore’s office during a modified change of command ceremony. He turned over command of the largest training air wing in the Navy to Marine Col. Jeffrey M. Pavelko after serving as commodore for 18 months, March 2019 until Sept. 18. The ceremony was conducted taking COVID-19 measures into consideration.

Rosa earned a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, in 2008. He transferred to Washington, D.C. for a joint assignment as branch chief in the Technology and Resource Integration Division. He selected for command in 2009 and served as executive officer (XO) for HSC-2 in Norfolk from 2011 to 2012 before reassignment to HSC-28, where he served as XO, and then commanding officer until August 2014.

Upon completion of his command tour, he reported to North American Aerospace Defense Command/U.S. Northern Command and served as Command Center director until March 2017. In August 2017, Rosa reported to TAW 5 and assumed the position of deputy commodore. He assumed the position of commodore in March 2019.

Pavelko graduated from Penn State University and commissioned in May 1994. Upon graduation from The Basic School in Quantico, Virginia, he was assigned to flight school in Pensacola and designated a naval aviator in September 1997.

Upon completion of initial training in the AH-1W at Camp Pendleton, California, in 1998, Pavelko reported to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169, where he deployed numerous times, including Operation Iraqi Freedom. He earned his Masters of Military Studies from the Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, after serving as the AH-1W SuperCobra division head and instructor pilot at Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron. In June 2007, Pavelko served as the executive officer with HMLA-269 and Marine Aircraft Group 29, deploying to Iraq three times in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In January 2012, Pavelko reported to Helicopter Training Squadron 28, as the executive officer and subsequently the commanding officer from June 2012 to December 2014. He returned to TAW 5 after earning his master’s in strategic studies from the Air War College in Montgomery, Alabama.

Navy Capt. Jade Lepke, from Mitchell, South Dakota, assumed duties as the deputy commodore.