PATUXENT RIVER, Md. – In an event marking a significant shift in leadership, Cmdr. Nicholas Green assumed command of the esteemed Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 Blackjacks from Lt. Col. Matthew Baumann. The ceremonial transition of authority took place on June 8, 2023, at the Naval Air Station Patuxent River.

Capt. Elizabeth Somerville, Naval Test Wing Atlantic Commodore, presided over the proceedings. Somerville commended the Blackjacks’ unwavering commitment to duty, saying, “The scope of responsibility is absolutely immense, and the Blackjacks have answered the call every single time. Developing and delivering what our military needs would be impossible without the Blackjacks.”

Outgoing Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Matthew Baumann (far left), Naval Test Wing Atlantic Commodore Capt. Elizabeth Somerville (middle left), squadron Chief Test Pilot Christian Rice (middle right), and incoming Commanding Officer Cmdr. Nicholas Green (far right) pose for a photo on the flight line against smoky skies over the Patuxent River at Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (HX) 21 after a flight where Baumann turned over command to Green during an airborne change of command ceremony on June 8, 2023 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Credit: Erik Hildebrandt / U.S. Navy

Cmdr. Green steps into the role following his tenure as HX-21’s Chief Test Pilot. After a successful year at the helm since May 2022, his predecessor, Lt. Col. Baumann, is slated to become an executive fellow at SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. The fellowship is part of the Secretary of Defense’s Executive Fellowship program.

Green noted the distinction between operational and developmental objectives: “In the fleet, results are the end-state. Here, results are just one-half of the equation–our achievements are tied to how we do it.”

A native of Virginia Beach and a U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Cmdr. Green is an accomplished H-60 Seahawk pilot. His distinguished service includes multiple assignments across various sea and shore tours, notably two terms with HX-21. His diverse experience ranges from leading developmental test efforts for the Navy’s MH-60R/S variants, international military variants, mission system upgrades, and foreign military sales to serving as the chief engineer for the Navy’s H-60 Multi-Mission Helicopters Program. As a U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) graduate, Green boasts over 2,300 flight hours in 27 different aircraft.

“I don’t know what’s harder: taking command or giving up command,” shared a reflective Baumann. He expressed confidence in Green’s leadership, stating, “Cmdr. Green will keep moving this squadron forward–I couldn’t have asked for a better leader for the most professional and talented group of people I’ve ever had the privilege to work with.”

Lt. Col. Baumann, a Johns Hopkins University graduate, has also had an illustrious career, marked by three deployments supporting Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. His more than 2,000 flight hours span 28 different aircraft. Baumann’s leadership has been pivotal in various roles, including chief engineer and lead for foreign military sales for the USMC Light/Attack Helicopter Programs Office.

The Blackjacks, or HX-21, a Naval Test Wing Atlantic component under the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, provide critical flight tests and evaluation for U.S. Navy and Marine Corps rotary-wing and tilt-rotor aircraft. Their home, the NAS Patuxent River, has housed the squadron since 1949. The squadron continues to advance capability and readiness for six aircraft families, including the CH-53E/K, the C/MV-22, the H-1Y/Z, MH-60R/S, and the Presidential Helicopter fleet.

With facilities spread across Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida, the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division aims to advance capability and operational readiness for naval aviation.

David M. Higgins II is an award-winning journalist passionate about uncovering the truth and telling compelling stories. Born in Baltimore and raised in Southern Maryland, he has lived in several East...

Leave a comment

Leave a Reply