TACAMO leadership to change: commodore retires

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE -- With leadership of Strategic Communications Wing ONE changing hands this month, the current wing commander, Capt. Dan Seesholtz took time recently to share some parting thoughts with the wing he has led for the last 19 months.
   Capt. Seesholtz will officially pass the reins of the Take Charge and Move Out community to current SCW-1 deputy commander, Capt. Brian Costello, and then retire from the Navy in a change of command ceremony and retirement ceremony on July 13.
   While leaving the TACAMO community and active Navy service is a thought that would leave some with negative feelings, Capt. Seesholtz is experiencing a different set of emotions.
   "The Wing and the community are in good shape - the future is bright," he said. "I am passing command to the right man at the right time in Capt. (Brian) Costello. He is eminently qualified and I know he will meet all challenges that lay ahead."
   For Capt. Seesholtz, his time in command has been a time when the Community saw some significant changes - a fact he touched on when he took over in December 2005.
   "We will embrace change," he said in his change of command remarks then. "We will look for new and innovative ways to conduct business as we move forward." 
   That has certainly proven to be true. Over the last 19 months, TACAMO has adapted to take on new mission responsibilities as the nation's military has matched-up with an ever-changing worldwide threat. This has included a TACAMO first - sending an E-6B Mercury aircraft into the Central Command area of operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
   "That was an important milestone," he said. "We now have a jet in the desert with a cadre of maintainers and aircrew. They are making a difference."
   This has increased the Wing's visibility within the Navy and within the Department of Defense, he said.
   "We have a higher profile now than ever before," he said. "In this instance, that is a good thing."
   Another highlight of Capt. Seesholtz' tour and in fact his career, was the Chief of Naval Operations' selection of then-Petty Officer 1st Class Dennis A. Simpson as the U.S. Pacific Fleet's Sea Sailor of the Year in 2006. Petty Officer Simpson's selection from the ranks of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron THREE followed the selection of then-Petty Officer 1st Class Matthew Waxenfelter's (from VQ-4) for the exact same award the year before - an unprecedented achievement.
   "(That) was probably the coolest thing to happen in my time as Commodore," Capt. Seesholtz said. "To see two Sailors from a small air wing at Tinker Air Force Base, outside the mainstream of Naval Aviation, was huge for us. Showing that these two folks were 'the best of the best' in the Navy was extremely satisfying."
   His tour as commodore was actually Capt. Seesholtz' fourth tour of duty with TACAMO. Seesholtz previously served as the commanding officer of VQ-4. He also served as the E-6 requirements officer on the Chief of Naval Operations' staff in Washington, D.C., and as the chief of the Airborne Command Post Operations Branch at the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt AFB, Neb.
   As a naval flight officer, Capt. Seesholtz accumulated approximately 4,000 flight hours, primarily in the EC-130Q and the E-6A/B aircraft.
   Those experiences all helped him when he took over the Wing in December 2005, he said.
   TACAMO's primary mission is to provide a survivable communications link between national leadership and the nation's strategic forces. The E-6B uses dual trailing wires that serve as transmitter and antenna and transmits in the very low frequency spectrum.
   While the last 19 months were filled with many positives, there were a couple of low points to deal with, according to Capt. Seesholtz.
   "My father (a retired naval officer) always said, 'You spend 90 percent of your time on about 10 percent of the people.' The good news is we were able to save a portion of that 10 percent." 
   As for his successor as SCW-1 commodore, Capt. Seesholtz says his Sailors could not have a better leader.
   "Capt. Costello is extremely qualified to take the job. He knows what needs to be done. My advice to him is to drink only in moderation and to play golf every chance he gets," he said with a smile.
   And he added some advice for all officers, chiefs and Sailors, "Everyone needs to take care of each other; watch out for each other," he said. "They need to take advantage of all the opportunities here at Tinker AFB and in the local community. There are plenty of them. The support from the local community here is just tremendous."
   All in all, Capt. Seesholtz says the outlook for the TACAMO community is good. "Our future is solid at the moment. There is an appreciation for our mission up the chain-of-command and in Washington, D.C. That should continue for the foreseeable future."