Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City holds change-of-command ceremony

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. - Coast Guard Cmdr. Jonathan Spaner (left) and Cmdr. Joseph Buzzella (right) shake hands as Ninth District Commander Rear Adm. Michael Parks  (center) applauds during a ceremony there May 13, 2011, at which Spaner transferred command of the air station to Buzzella. Spaner was the air station's commanding officer for the previous two years and is departing to attend the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Mass. (Photo courtesy of Jan Edman)

Photo courtesy of Jan Edman

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. – With family and friends, as well as members of the community, looking on, Cmdr. Jonathan Spaner transferred command of Coast Guard Air Station Traverse City to another Coast Guard aviator today during a ceremony at the air station.

The traditional change-of-command ceremony, presided over by Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, culminated with Spaner transferring command to Cmdr. Joseph Buzzella, the new commanding officer.

Spaner is a Cum Laude graduate of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., where he served as regimental commander. He holds a master’s degree in management from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., and is a distinguished graduate from U.S. Naval Pilot Training in Pensacola, Fla.

His prior operational assignments include Coast Guard air stations in Sacramento, Calif., Clearwater, Fla., and Astoria, Ore., where he held qualifications as an instructor pilot in the HC-130H Hercules aircraft and aircraft commander in the HH-60J Jayhawk helicopter.

Spaner is departing to attend the MIT Sloan Fellows Program in Innovation and Global Leadership at Cambridge, Mass., where he will be studying to receive a masters degree in business administration.

In attendance at the ceremony were Spaner’s wife, Laura, his two young children, their nanny Elise, and his “little brother” from the Big Brother’s Program.

Spaner enjoyed his two-year tour in Traverse City but said it went by too fast.

“I am exceptionally humbled to have served as a commanding officer in the United States military,” Spaner said. “There is no one on earth who really deserves the privilege of leading so many accomplished people – no one. But, as a team, we worked well together, and I will always remember this opportunity as the highest professional privilege of my lifetime.”

Buzzella is reporting from Air Station San Francisco, Calif., where he served as the unit’s executive officer, or second in command, and an MH-65 Dolphin helicopter pilot.

Change-of-command ceremonies are time-honored traditions deeply rooted in American military history. The event signifies a total transfer of responsibility, authority and accountability for the command in Traverse City from Spaner to Buzzella. The ceremony is attended by all members of the unit so they witness the transfer of leadership firsthand. Several family members, community leaders and friends of the commanders will also be in attendance.

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