NORFOLK, Va. - The “Freedom Fighters” of Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW-7) held a change of command ceremony at Naval Station Norfolk on July 23.
Capt. Nathan Ballou relieved Capt. William Reed of his role during an in-flight ceremony featuring a formation of one E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and two F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.
Reed took command in January 2019 and led CVW-7 during their 10-month around the world deployment onboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).
While on cruise, CVW-7 operated in the 5th, 6th, and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility and set a record for longest continual deployment by a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier.
“I’m so appreciative, not only of the Sailors of CVW-7, but of their families as well who sacrificed so much during our last deployment,” Reed said. “I’ve had the unique honor of working with and leading a team of highly-driven professionals who represent the best of our Navy and Naval Aviation. I will take a lot of lessons with me from my time at CVW-7, but most importantly it’s to do what Naval Aviators do best: Take initiative and be aggressive.”
Reed is the only pilot on active duty to have logged 5,000 flight hours in the E-2 Hawkeye.
During his career, he accrued 1,100 combat flight hours during 300-plus missions. His will now attend the National Defense University in Washington D.C.
Ballou reported to CVW-7 in January 2019. His previous assignments included commanding Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 and overseas tours in Japan and Germany.
Ballou supported Operations Southern Watch, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Inherent resolve, leading numerous strikes against targets in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
“As an air wing our focus is to train confident, tactically proficient aviators and the best maintenance and support teams in the world,” said Ballou. “While we ready ourselves to execute any mission that our nation asks, we must pay back into our Sailors and their families for the tenacity and resilience they demonstrated during deployment in every way that we can.”
CVW-7 is the offensive air and strike component of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12, currently assigned to the USS Gerald R Ford (CVN-78). Squadrons assigned to CVW-7 include VFA-25 “Fist of the Fleet,” VFA-86 “Sidewinders,” VFA-103 “Jolly Rogers,” VFA-143 “Pukin’ Dogs,” Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121 “Bluetails,” Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140 “Patriots,” Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5 “Nightdippers,” and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46 “Grandmasters.”