Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211 conducted an aerial change of command above Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana, July 23 signifying the change in leadership.
Cmdr. James Huddleston relieved Cmdr. Ken Hockycko during the time-honored ceremony. Hockycko, a graduate from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Economics will depart VFA-211 to report to the Joint Staff as the J7 Team Chief in Norfolk, Va.
Huddleston, a graduate from the United States Naval Academy in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in physics, served as the executive officer prior to assuming command of VFA-211.
While in command, Hockycko maximized training and combat lethality to successfully execute 2, 515 sorties and 4,030 flight hours resulting in 14 aircrew advancements and the qualification of five Air Interdiction Mission Commanders and two Rescue Mission Commanders with a 96 percent sortie completion rate during their deployment on board USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
“Serving the Checkmates for the past fifteen months has been the honor of a lifetime. Our Sailors remained focused amid operational uncertainties; they stood ready to deter or defeat regional aggressors during times of heightened tensions; and they held the line at sea while our shipmates prepared to deploy at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hockycko, who assumed duties as executive officer in July 2018.
Additionally, while at VFA-211 he oversaw 14 jet transfers enabling the preparation for a challenging two-seat to single-seat airframe transition for the squadron.
Over the course of his naval carrier, Hockycko accumulated more than 2,600 flight hours and 600 carrier arrested landings in the F-14D Tomcat and F/A-18A-F Hornet and Super Hornet. Past flying tours include Fighter Squadron (VF-213), Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC-12), Carrier Air Wing (CVW-8), and Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-143).
Hockycko thanked the entire VFA-211 family for their support while he was in command.
“Their service, and that of their loved ones, is emblematic of all that is great about America,” said Hockycko. “I am proud to have been a part of the VFA-211 family, and more so, to pass the lead to CDR Huddleston-one of the finest naval officers and aviators with whom I have had the pleasure to serve in my career. I look forward to watching him take the Checkmates to new heights.”
Huddleston, who served as the executive officer prior to assuming command, recognized the professionalism of his team. Huddleston has more than 3,000 flight hours and 490 traps.
“It continues to be an honor to be a member of the Checkmates; part of a fantastic squadron only recently returned from deployment, and now undergoing a shift from the F/A-18F to the F/A-18E as we pivot back to the work-up cycle,” said Huddleston. “The talent and professionalism of this team, at this moment, is like nothing I have seen before. I’m proud to be a part of it and I look forward to the future.”
VFA-211 assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 deployed aboard the Nimitz-class carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and returned home June 5, marking the end of its deployment after operating in the U.S. 2nd, 5th and 6th Fleets.