By LT Matt Gottschalk, VFC-13 Public Affairs
The "Saints" of Fighter Squadron Composite (VFC) 13 held an aerial change of command ceremony in the sky above Naval Air Station Fallon January 31.
Cmdr. Andrew Craig relieved Cmdr. Brandon Harjer as commanding officer. The ceremony marked the thirty-fourth change of command in the squadron's history since the unit's commissioning in 1973.
After both pilots read their orders transferring command over the radio, Harier gave the formation lead to Craig as they flew over NAS Fallon. At the conclusion of their change of command flight, Cmdr. Harjer held his retirement ceremony in hanger four, concluding his 20 years of service.
A native of Marion, Ohio, Cmdr. Craig graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in May 2002 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering. After Aviation Preflight Indoctrination, he reported to NAS Corpus Christi for primary flight training with VT-27 and then to NAS Meridian for intermediate flight training in VT-9 and advanced flight training in VT-7. He was designated a Naval aviator in June of 2005.
After receiving his initial FA-18 Hornet training at VFA-106 at NAS Oceana, he reported to the "Golden Dragons" of VFA-192 in Atsugi Japan in May of 2006. While assigned to VFA-192, he deployed multiple times to the Western Pacific. He served as a NATOPS instructor, FCF pilot and Combat Division Lead. During his time in the squadron, VFA-192 was awarded the Battle "E".
In January 2009, he reported to TOPGUN where he completed the Strike Fighter Tactics Instructor (SFTI) course and remained on staff as a TOPGUN Instructor. While at TOPGUN he held simultaneous qualifications in the FA-18A-D, FA-18E/F "Super Hornet" and F-16. He served as the USN's Air-to-Air Mission Planning subject matter expert and was also selected by his peers to be the TOPGUN Standardization Officer.
In May 2012 he was assigned to VFA-113 as the Squadron Training Officer. He trained and prepared a ready room of young aviators for a 10-month deployment aboard the USS CARL VINSON (CVN-70) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
In July 2014 he joined the United States Navy Reserve (USNR) and affiliated with VFC-13 in Fallon, NV. He served as the Selected Reserve (SELRES) Safety Officer and SELRES Operations Officer as a Level IV Adversary Instructor and Basic Fighter Maneuvers Instructor.
In July 2017, Cmdr. Craig became VFC-13's executive officer.
During Cmdr. Harjer's tour, VFC-13 flew over 4,870 mishap-free flight hours during 5,068 sorties encompassing five Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Program detachments, four Carrier Air Wing (CVW) detachments, five TOPGUN classes, seven Electronic Warfare Advanced Readiness Programs, three Strike Fighter Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) detachments, four Electronic Attack FRS detachments and one Joint Close Air Support class.
The squadron was originally formed September 1, 1973 as Composite Squadron (VC) 13 at NAS New Orleans during a reorganization of the Naval Reserve and was re-designated as VFC-13 on April 22, 1988, in recognition of the squadron's evolving mission.
VFC-13 Adversary pilots work closely with the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC) to provide the best air combat training possible for Fleet Replacement Squadrons, Carrier Air Wings, the Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Programs (SFARP), and Navy Special Warfare training.