VFA-83 Holds Change of Command Aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower
The Rampagers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 83 held a change of command ceremony while deployed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (IKE), June 17.
Cmdr. Bobby Markovich was relieved of command by Cmdr. Jesse Hilliker, the former executive officer, in an aerial change of command above the ship. Before the launch, the ceremony began on the flight deck with a few words from Markovich and Commander Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, Capt. Terry Morris.
“It’s been my pleasure to serve with you and an honor to have you here in the Air Wing,” said Morris. “You have been a reason for our success and I’m proud to call you my friend and I look forward to sharing many experiences with you in the fleet. Your squadron has done exceptionally well and we have had tremendous highs with your success.”
After the ceremony, both pilots read their orders, formally transferred command over the radio and then celebrated their last flight together by executing basic fighter maneuvering against each other.
“I will most remember the Sailors, the promotions and the folks getting their EAWS wings; those are always good days,” said Markovich. “I will remember all the flying and all the missions over Afghanistan and I wouldn’t have changed a thing. [I hope to leave behind] my Legacy. We trained hard, we flew hard and we were always ready when we were called upon.”
Markovich graduated from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Mich. in 1990 with a Bachelor of Technology degree in Aviation. After completion of Officer Candidate School, he was commissioned in August 1995.
During his career, Markovich has accumulated 6,500 flight hours (civilian and military) and 750 arrested landings. His military awards include various meritorious individual and unit awards, including six Strike Flight Air Medals, Joint Commendation Medal and five Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals with Combat V.
VFA-83 was deployed for 13 out of the 16 months while under the command of Markovich and he said he could not have asked for a better squadron. His next command will be at Naval Central Command in Bahrain.
Hilliker graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics.
He has logged more than 550 traps in the F/A-18 and more than 2,600 flight hours in 32 different aircraft. His military awards include various meritorious individual and unit awards including four Strike Flight Air Medals and three Navy Commendation Medals.
Hilliker stated that he is proud to continue with a great team as commanding officer.
“The squadron, Air Wing and ship team has been working very hard and I am excited to be a part of it,” said Hilliker. “[Markovich’s] patience, emphasis on flying and training and his dedication to his people are the things I will look forward to taking into my tour.”
Cmdr. Nathan Ballou assumed duties as VFA-83 executive officer.
Press Release, June 18, 2013; Image: US Navy