Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Fighting Tigers hold 60th change-of-command ceremony The U.S. Navy's Patrol Squadron EIGHT held its 60th Change of Command May 6, at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. During the ceremony, Commander Sean R. Liedman relieved Commander Eric S. Wiese and became the Fighting Tigers' 61st Commanding Officer. Captain James B. Hoke, Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing FIVE, presided over the ceremony and Captain Thomas G. Kollie, Commander Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing Central Command, was the guest speaker. Commander Liedman, a native of Kimball, graduated with distinction from the United States Naval Academy in 1991 earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering. He had this to say as he took command of VP-8: "I am honored to assume command of a squadron that has achieved a legacy of operational excellence over the course of its 67-year history. The men and women of VP-8 are grateful for the superb leadership that Skipper Wiese has provided over the past year while preparing for and executing this deployment. Our challenge now is to sustain the superb performance that we have achieved during the first five months of this deployment and carry that momentum through to successful completion of a homeport change to Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla." Commander Jiancarlo Villa, a 1993 graduate of Jacksonville University, assumed duties as the Executive Officer. His most recent assignment was at the Bureau of Personnel in Millington, Tenn., where he served as the P-3 Community Placement Officer. The Fighting Tigers are deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, and have detachments in Djibouti and Japan in support of ongoing military operations. Flying the P-3C, the squadron has executed more than 500 sorties and nearly 4,000 flight hours in support of Operations ENDURING and IRAQI FREEDOM, CJTF Horn of Africa, and coalition counter-piracy operations. The Fighting Tigers have been based at Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine since 1971, but will return to their new homeport at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla. in early June 2009. The April 27, 2009, Navy Times featured a story about Liedman's P-3 Orion and its involvement in rescuing the Maersk Alabama from Somali pirates. (Because of copyright laws, we cannot reprint the article here.) Liedman was the Executive Officer on the reconnaissance plane, a P-3 Orion, which was the first U.S. military unit to reach the hijacked ship April 8. The destroyer U.S.S. Bainbridge was on its way, but it was many hours away. Liedman was, according to the article, the first to make contact with the Alabama crew. He heard the stress in their voices, and heard the Somali pirates taunting the crew. Liedman maintained radio contact, even as the P-3 made several passes over the Alabama to show some U.S. muscle. Good work, Commander!