By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Matthew Dickinson, Commander, Amphibious Squadron 3 Public Affairs
GULF OF ADEN (NNS) -- Capt. J.J. Cummings relieved Capt. Michael McKenna as commanding officer aboard the San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship USS Anchorage (LPD 23) during a change of command ceremony Sept. 3.
This change of command was special for Capt. McKenna because it was his last. He retired after 26 years of service in the U.S. Navy.
"It has been an amazing week, you guys are really lucky to have a talented, energetic and awesome leader," said McKenna. "I know Capt. Cummings and his wife Sarah are going to do a fantastic job here, and I'm very honored to be turning this command over to him."
McKenna, from Missoula, Montana, has more than 3,200 flight hours and 540 arrested landings. His awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Meritorious Service Medal, Individual Air Medal (with Combat V), Strike Flight Air Medal, and Navy Commendation Medal (with Combat V).
"I'll leave you with a quote, it's a pretty straight-forward quote, I'm a pretty straight-forward person. It's by Theodore Roosevelt, and I think it really captures why I'm here and why I do what I do," said McKenna. "'There is no greater reward than working hard at a job worth doing.' What we do, the sacrifices we make for our country, it's worth it."
Cummings, a native of Sharon, Massachusetts, attended Aviation Officer Candidate School in November of 1991, earned his pilot wings in October 1993 and completed Fleet Replacement training in the F-14/A Tomcat in June 1995.
"Capt. McKenna, I would like to thank you for the past year, the past week in particular for getting me up to speed with this job," said Cummings. "Without a doubt any future success this ship has is a direct result of the work that Capt. McKenna and the crew have done over the past year."
Capt. Cummings' fleet tours flying the F-14 were with the VF-24 "Fighting Renegades" and VF-211 "Checkmates" aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68). After transitioning to the F/A-18F Super Hornet in 2007, he served as executive and commanding officer of VFA-11, the "Red Rippers", aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Ashore, Capt. Cummings served as an F-14 instructor pilot with the VF-101 "Grim Reapers," where he graduated from the Navy Fighter Weapon School (TOPGUN) as a strike fighter tactics instructor. He recently served as the executive officer of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) from May 2013 to May 2015.
"For the crew, it's a complete honor and privilege to be your commanding officer," said Cummings, "I will make the most of this opportunity and work very hard every day to make sure you are the best trained, and most professional Sailors on the planet."
Anchorage, part of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group, and with the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (15th MEU), is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations.