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CNATT Unit Lemoore welcomes new leadership

16 February 2023

From Aviation Structural Mechanic First Class Taylor Schriner

LEMOORE, Calif. -- Commander Riley E. Swinney Jr. relieved Cmdr. Manuel Sanchez as commanding officer for Center of Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Lemoore during an outdoor change of command ceremony Feb. 16.
LEMOORE, Calif. -- Commander Riley E. Swinney Jr. relieved Cmdr. Manuel Sanchez as commanding officer for the Center of Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit (CNATTU) Lemoore during an outdoor change of command ceremony Feb. 16.
Staff and honored guests gathered under a crisp, late morning light of another resoundingly sunny Lemoore day to honor the changing of command and welcome another leader to helm the schoolhouse.
While in command of CNATTU Lemoore, Sanchez was responsible for more than 135 personnel daily, encompassing 56 courses of instruction, while serving a student population of more than 300. Sanchez took the reins of the schoolhouse during the COVID pandemic and continued his predecessor’s work of keeping the campus of CNATTU Lemoore a safe learning environment. He was able to navigate the turbulent skies of the global pandemic and guide his Sailors and Marines through to safety--keeping a steady throughput of Sailors and Marines with no interruptions to the courses taught.
Swinney, who has been CNATTU Lemoore’s executive officer since October 2021, reflected on his working relationship with Sanchez.
“Thank you for everything,” Cmdr. Swinney said in regards to Cmdr. Sanchez.  “It has been a very humbling experience serving with you the last 18 months.  I’ve known you for a while, but this is the first time I’ve been able to work side-by-side with you.  You will be greatly missed, and we all wish you the best in your retirement!”
Swinney also had a message for the Sailors, Marines and civilian staff members. 
“There’s always a better way, and I encourage you to find it.  Embrace innovation, seek out efficiencies, that’s how we all ‘Get Real and Get Better,’” Swinney said. “Our mission statement says it all.  All of you ARE the foundation of our success.  You take new Sailors and Marines and give them the final training required to go to the fleet and support Naval Aviation.  Just like I’m certain you all remember the names of your “C” school instructors, everyone you teach will remember you as well.  Let that sink in, your impact on them will make ripples for decades to come.”
Swinney was born in Balboa Naval Hospital, San Diego, California, and raised in Claremore, Oklahoma.  He graduated high school from Foyil High School in Oklahoma and completed his associate degree in avionics from Spartan School of Aeronautics. After working in the civilian sector for a few years, he joined the U.S. Navy in August 1991.
After completing recruit training, Swinney attended Aviation Electronic Technician “A” School and became an intermediate-level aviation electronic technician. In September 2001, he was initiated into the chief petty officer mess and in 2005 he was commissioned under the Limited Duty Officer program. He completed his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Embry Riddle University.   
His enlisted tours of duty include Fighter Squadron (VF) 101, Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana as a part of the Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance Department (AIMD), Sea Operations Detachment (SEAOPDET) based out of Norfolk, Virginia; Naval Air Maintenance Training Unit (NAMTRAU) based out of Oceana, Virginia, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
As an officer, his tours of duty include Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 21, Fleet Readiness Center Mid-Atlantic (FRCMA), HSC 23, the Theodore Roosevelt, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Pacific (CHSMWINGPAC), USS Boxer (LHD 4), and Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 41.
His personal awards include the Meritorious Service Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (ten awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (six awards), and various unit and service awards.
Lemoore staff also welcomed Cmdr. Chabonnie “Sonny” Alexander as their new executive officer.
CNATTU Lemoore equips Sailors and Marines with the necessary skills and abilities to function at the highest technical standards in Naval aviation, primarily focused on the F/A-18 Hornet and the associated maintenance testing equipment. Not only does CNATTU Lemoore give the highest quality training available to the naval aviation community, they are at the forefront of Sailor 2025 Ready Relevant Learning, Broad Unscheduled Rapid Support Training Courses, and have encompassed, encouraged and propagated a culture of warrior toughness at the schoolhouse.
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