New Commanding Officer Takes the Helm at NAS Lemoore

Last Updated : 6/22/2011 4:22:42 PM

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By Melinda Larson

(NAVAL  AIR STATION LEMOORE) June 22, 2011 -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore held a change of command ceremony June 22 in Welsh Park, adjacent to the headquarters building.

During the ceremony, Capt. Eric H. Venema relieved Capt. James R. Knapp as the commanding officer of the installation.  NAS Lemoore is home to Strike Fighter Wing Pacific Fleet.
 
“For the past three years, Capt. Knapp has successfully carried the torch and guided this command down a rich and productive path.  His list of accomplishments, in every endeavor, wouldn’t have been possible without his personal passion for serving sailors and protecting the mission of this base,” said Rear Adm. William French, Commander Navy Region Southwest. 

Knapp took command of the air station Sept. 25, 2008.  He’ll retire from the Navy following 27 years of service. 

“You’re inheriting the best installation in the Navy made up of the finest Sailors, families and civilian employees,” Knapp told Venema during his remarks.  “I’ll truly miss all of them.”

A fighter pilot, Venema reports to NAS Lemoore from U.S. Southern Command where he served as the Deputy Director for Counternarcotics/Counter Illicit Trafficking.  He was stationed at various NAS Lemoore-based strike fighter squadrons from 2000-2008.

“NAS Lemoore was my first choice for orders.  My family and I are looking forward to our tour here,” said Venema whose last assignment at the installation was as commanding officer of Strike Fighter Squadron 151.  

Venema was born in West Chester, Penn. He attended Drexel University on an ROTC scholarship and commissioned in May 1989. He was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1991.  

Venema’s personal awards include the Bronze Star, the Meritorious Service Medal, five Strike Flight Air Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one w/combat V), two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and numerous campaign and unit citations. He has accumulated over 3,700 flight hours, including over 2,700 in the F/A-18.