The Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Jacksonville staff held a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station Jacksonville Feb. 25.
Cmdr. Freddie Koonce relieved Cmdr. Russell Lawrence as the unit’s commanding officer. Cmdr. Richard Martinez takes over as the unit’s executive officer. Lawrence will retire with more than 31 years of service.
Lawrence, a native of Scottsburg, Indiana, joined the CNATTU Jacksonville team in May 2018. Lawrence was promoted to chief petty officer in September 1999 and was commissioned through the Limited Duty Officer program in August 2001.
“It has been an absolute honor working alongside all the outstanding professionals at CNATTU JAX,” Lawrence said. “The entire team has made significant strides in curriculum development and equipment configurations during the past three years. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors. To Cmdr. Koonce and family, I hope you enjoy your command tour. Treasure the time, it will go by quickly. Best of luck to you and your family.”
Koonce, a native of Kinston, North Carolina, began his naval career in August 1990. In 2001, he was commissioned as an ensign through the Limited Duty Officer program. Koonce assumed the duties as the unit’s executive officer in October 2019.
“It is a tremendous honor and privilege for me to assume command, I can’t think of a more challenging and hopefully rewarding job,” Koonce said. “I also would like to say ‘fair winds and following seas’ to Cmdr. Lawrence and wish him only the best that life has to offer him and his family, as he ventures out in the next phase of his life journey.”
Koonce went on to say that he’s supported by the “very best” CNATTU Jacksonville staff and training and readiness will be the top priority.
“We must ensure the students who walk out of our doors are trained and ready to meet all of the challenges they will face when they are on the front lines defending what we cherish most, freedom and freedom of speech,” Koonce said.
CNATTU Jacksonville’s overall readiness and success in 2020 was remarkable. The unit graduated 4,653 U.S. Navy, Marines and foreign military students to support many different platforms in the fleet and around the world.