New commander takes reins of Naval Station Mayport helicopter squadron

Cmdr. Carolyn Peterson and Cmdr. Katie J. Lunser salute during a Change of Command Ceremony at Naval Station Mayport. (WJXT)

NAVAL STATION MAYPORT, Fla. – As she handed the squadron over to its new commander officer, CO Cmdr. Carolyn Peterson unveiled a surprise for the new commanding officer, saying it was something she had never gotten herself -- an aircraft with the CO’s name stenciled onto it.

“We’re so busy being operational that it’s hard to take the time to beautify things because we’re about making sure things get done,” Peterson said as the crowd applauded and new CO Cmdr. Katie J. Lunser cheered.

Cmdr. Carolyn Peterson unveiled a helicopter with Cmdr. Katie J. Lunser's name stenciled on it during a Change of Command Ceremony at Naval Station Mayport. (WJXT)

The unveiling was part of a Change of Command Ceremony on Thursday for Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 50 at Naval Station Mayport.

Lunser, the executive officer for HSM-50 and a New York native, took the reins of the squadron from Peterson.

Before taking leadership of the Mayport squadron herself, Peterson had served in her native Tennessee, deployed with the USS Hue City and served with Alaskan Command.

Change of Command Ceremony at Naval Station Mayport. (WJXT)

In her career, Lunser has been assigned to Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45 “The World Famous Wolfpack” and HSM-74 “The World Famous Swamp Foxes” and has deployed on the USS Halsey, the USS Curts, the USS Mason and volunteered for additional support to Carrier Strike Group 11′s deployment aboard the USS Rentz.

In 2011, Lunser reported to HSM-40 “Airwolves” to the MH-60R and earn her instructor pilot qualification while serving as the legal officer, the production officer and the aircrew division officer. Before leaving HSM-40, Lunser earned Officer of the Year and graduated from Florida Institute of Technology with a Master of Business Administration concentrating in information technology management.

She has completed Professional Military Education I at the U.S. Naval War College and is authorized to wear the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Joint Meritorious Unit Commendation, the Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards), the Commendation Medal (three awards), the Battle Effectiveness Award (three awards), a Combat Action Ribbon, a Humanitarian Service Ribbon, and multiple unit and service awards.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.