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Blue Angels select 3 Virginia Beach-based officers for 2017 air show season

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Posted at 10:51 AM, Jul 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 11:32:20-04

PENSACOLA, Fl. – The Blue Angels have announced officers selected for the 2017 air show season and three are currently stationed in Virginia Beach.

The Blue Angels are the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron.

They’ve selected three F/A-18 demonstration pilots, an events coordinator, C-130 demonstration pilot, flight surgeon, supply officer and administration officer to join the executive officer on the 2017 team.

Chief of Naval Air Training Rear Admiral Dell Bull recommended each officer and Chief of Naval Air Forces Vice Admiral Mike Shoemaker approved them for final selection to the Blue Angels.

Navy Lt. Nate Scott, 31, is an F/A-18 Hornet instructor pilot currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 the “Gladiators,” at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

Scott, a Danville, California  native, is a 2007 graduate of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles.

Navy Lt. Juan Guerra, 31, was selected to be the Flight Surgeon. The Ocala, Florida native is currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 the “Gladiators” at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

He’s a 2011 graduate of the Uniformed Services University of health Sciences School of Medicine in Bethesda, Maryland.

Navy Lt. j.g. Timothy Hawkins, 37, was selected to be the Administration Officer. He’s currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 143 the “Pukin’ Dogs” at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach.

Hawkins was commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer Program in 2013.

“It is such a privilege to have so many talented officers apply to be part of the Blue Angels tradition of showcasing the Navy and Marine Corps to the American public,” said Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, flight leader and commanding officer of the 2016 team. “I am inspired by all of those who applied this year and we have an exceptional group to add to next year’s team.”

Each year the Blue Angels select finalists to interview at the team’s home base of Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida during the week of the Pensacola Beach Air Show. The team then makes selections at the end of that week.

The Blue Angels are scheduled to perform in Virginia Beach at Naval Air Station Oceana September 10th and 11th.

The other officers selected for the 2017 Blue Angels Team include:

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Navy Lt. Brandon Hempler, 32, of Wamego, Kansas, is an F/A-18 Super Hornet pilot currently assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 22, the “Golden Eagles,” at NAS Kingsville, Texas. He is a 2007 graduate of Kansas State University, Salina, Kansas.

Navy Lt. Damon Kroes, 34, of Fremont, California, is an F/A-18 Hornet instructor pilot currently assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Training Squadron (VMFAT) 101, the “Sharpshooters,” at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, California. He is a 2006 graduate of San Diego State University, San Diego.

Events Coordinator:

Navy Lt. Dave Steppe, 31, of Birmingham, Alabama, is an EA-18G Growler naval flight officer currently assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the “Vikings,” at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. He is a 2008 graduate of Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.

C-130 Demonstration Pilot:

Marine Capt. Kyle Maschner, 33, of Scottsdale, Arizona, is a KC-130 Hercules pilot currently assigned to 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan. He is a 2006 graduate of Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona.

Supply Officer:

Navy Lt. Bryan Pace, 32, of Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire, is a supply officer currently assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, the “Grim Reapers,” at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida. He is a 2010 graduate of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Amherst, Massachusetts.

Pre-selected to join the 2017 team was:

Executive Officer:

Navy Cmdr. Matt Kaslik, 43, of The Woodlands, Texas.

Expected to return for the 2017 season are:

Commanding Officer, Flight Leader:

Navy Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi, 43, of Los Altos, California.

F/A-18 Demonstration Pilots:

Navy Lt. Lance Benson, 33, of McPherson, Kansas.
Navy Lt. Tyler Davies, 34, of Kennesaw, Georgia.
Navy Cmdr. Frank Weisser, 38, of Atlanta.

C-130 Demonstration Pilots:

Marine Maj. Mark Hamilton, 38, of Becker, Minnesota.
Marine Maj. Mark Montgomery, 37, of Cartersville, Georgia.

Maintenance Officer:

Navy Lt. Samuel Rose, 36, of Whitehouse, Texas.

Public Affairs Officer:

Navy Lt. Joe Hontz, 38, of Longmont, Colorado.