Passing the gauntlet at 725 Squadron

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), CPOIS Cameron Martin (photographer)

Location(s): HMAS Albatross, NSW

Topic(s): Change of Command, 725 Squadron

Outgoing Commanding Officer 725 Squadron, Commander Stan Buckham, left, passes the gauntlet (the symbol of the Squadron) to incoming Commanding Officer, Commander James Hawley at a ceremony conducted in front of the Squadron and family members at HMAS Albatross. (photo: CPOIS Cameron Martin)
Outgoing Commanding Officer 725 Squadron, Commander Stan Buckham, left, passes the gauntlet (the symbol of the Squadron) to incoming Commanding Officer, Commander James Hawley at a ceremony conducted in front of the Squadron and family members at HMAS Albatross.

725 Squadron has welcomed its new Commanding Officer, Commander James Hawley, at a ceremony at HMAS Albatross.

Outgoing Commanding Officer, Commander Stan Buckham, has handed the ‘gauntlet’, the symbol of the Squadron, to Commander Hawley in a ceremony conducted in front of the whole Squadron and family members.

Commander Hawley said he was most excited about the responsibility and challenge of leading the dynamic and motivated men and women of 725 Squadron in order to prepare them for deployed Flights and ships.

“725 Squadron is responsible for training and developing Aircrew and Maintainers to operate one of the most complex and capable bits of kit in the Australian Defence Force,” Commander Hawley said.

“The complexity of the Maritime Combat Helicopter needs to be matched by the aggressive professionalism of our people.”

He said his principal goal is to foster a broader understanding of the maritime strategic context in order to develop the squadron’s people as better warfighters.

He flagged a program of training days, educational briefs, guest lecturers, reading lists and tactics development sessions to further the squadron’s warfighting culture and professionalism.

Commander Hawley is very familiar with Albatross, having first posted there in 2005 when he commenced Operational Conversion at 805 Squadron.

He said returning to Albatross after the Christmas leave break was “bittersweet.”

“The amazing investment in Albatross as the home of the Fleet Air Arm is evident everywhere you look. The Romeo precinct stands proudly where just a short while ago there was only a grass field,” Commander Hawley said.

“However, the impact of the bushfires is starkly evident with the charred earth stretching to the runways.

“I returned early from leave to assist in support of Operation BUSHFIRE ASSIST, and this provided me with a clear understanding of the extent of the devastation, and the tragic impact upon our Shoalhaven community.”

The change of command ceremony also allowed Commander Buckham the opportunity to reflect on his experiences at the Squadron.

Commander Buckham, who has assumed the role of Deputy Director, Future Domestic Plans in Military Strategic Commitments in Canberra, said he would most miss the privilege of Command and working with the people that supported him throughout, both professionally and personally.

“725 Squadron is made up of a dedicated and focussed team of people, all striving for excellence in training MH-60R Aircrew and Technical Sailors.

“Amongst the many highlights of my time as Commanding Officer, the main one was seeing aircrew and technical sailors achieve graduation or their authorisations and post to the operational space, be it a Flight or 816SQN and knowing that we had a small part to play in their career.

“When I assumed command in 2018 the previous Commanding Officer’s advice to me was ‘It’s a marathon, not a sprint so enjoy the ride,’ Commander Buckham said.

Commander Buckham’s own advice to Commander Hawley is that “You can’t be the best Commander you strive to be and look after the Squadron if you don’t look after yourself.”

Imagery is available on the Navy Image Gallery: https://images.navy.gov.au/S20200358.