On July 2, Captain Erik Spitzer, the 35th Commanding Officer of NAS-Kingsville, will change hands with Captain Thomas Korsmo to take command of Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.
Spitzer will depart as the longest serving Commanding Officer of NAS-Kingsville history after taking command in May 2016.
Spitzer chose Kingsville and since then has had no regrets.
“I know I made the right choice (picking Kingsville),” Spitzer said. “I would stay here longer if I could.”
NAS-Kingsville is the premier location for jet aviation training and graduates more than half of the Navy and Marine Corps tactical pilots annually.
“Kingsville has always been great and I am only interested in making it better and that’s in fact what the team has done.” Spitzer said. “We have a great collaboration and partnership with the city and the county. We are fortunate that we have strong relationships.”
He said without them, “I’d think there would be more challenges.”
During his 4-year tenure, Spitzer was blessed with monetary resources to help manage the base.
“Everyone is resource constraint and limited. There is more money now flowing into the instillations,” Spitzer said. “Leadership well before us decided to invest in infrastructure to keep us where we are at in defense climate today. I have been the benefactor of those recent resources.”
With some of those resources, Capt. Spitzer has refurbished two 1970’s hangers and the A-4 flight simulator, renovated the outdoor pool and recreation courts, installed speed calming devices and new perimeter fencing and signage for security measures and will soon finish his 38-million-dollar airfield lighting project.
His list of accomplishments also includes new ammunition bunkers, new guard shacks with ballistic glass, installation of a new base marquee and a successful 2018 “Wings over South Texas” air show to name a few.
Capt. Spitzer addressed the future mentioning, “We continue to have the air space and enough property to expand the mission. We’re ripe for an expansion. Meaning if someone was unfortunately forced to close, I believe we have the capability and capacity to expand.”
NAS has 36,000 cubic miles of unencumbered air space and is an efficient location to train.
When asked about the challenges of base readiness, safety and security, Capt. Spitzer said, “We continue to improve our plan and exercise that almost monthly, be it a hurricane or an aircraft mishap. None of those were seamless or perfect, but we gather a lot of information and have continued to improve our plan. We conduct ‘Table Tops’ where we talk about what could be done better. At the end of the day I am responsible for safety and security and what we can better do to protect.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the ability to work with my team to make a difference each and every day here,” Spitzer added. “What we do as a team is incredible and what we’ve accomplished in four years of which I know is going to continue is just making this place better. It’s already a great place.” Capt. Spitzer also had support from his wife, Brooke, who he says “Supports me 100%. I couldn’t do it without her. I couldn’t be more proud of her. We hope we made Kingsville even better.”
In regards to regrets he said, “I’ll regret - as I leave here soon - with not having the time to thank everybody here. You’ll never know how many are behind the scenes making this all work. There are so many folks here that do a phenomenal job.”
Change of Command is being held at 2 p.m. on July 2. As Capt. Spitzer departs, we wish him fair winds and following seas.