New commander takes helm at NAS Whidbey

Capt. Eric Hanks has been selected to replace Capt. Matthew Arny.

Capt. Eric Hanks has been selected to replace Capt. Matthew Arny as the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

Hanks will assume the top job after a change of command ceremony on July 9.

Hanks, who grew up in Louisiana, most recently served as the executive assistant to the Office of Chief of Naval Operations Programming Division Director at the Pentagon.

After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1997 and becoming a naval aviator two years later, Hanks went on to serve with Patrol Squadron 16, Patrol Squadron 9 and Patrol Squadron 4, doing anti-submarine warfare, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and humanitarian response all around the world. He has logged over 3,300 flight hours.

Hanks has also served as an advanced maritime instructor pilot, defense sensitive support officer, special activities officer with the U.S. Africa Command and a senior military war-game analyst.

He later earned a master’s degree in national security strategy from the National War College in 2016.

Hanks has also been awarded the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal and others.

Arny will be retiring from a 33-year career with the Navy. He and his family will be staying in Washington state for now and will be moving to the city of Mill Creek.

“It’s hard to pick between the beauty of the area and the wonderful people we get to work with,” Arny said when asked what is hardest about leaving Whidbey Island.

In addition to a change at NAS Whidbey, the broader Navy community has undergone a recent leadership change.

Rear Adm. Brad Collins is the new Commander, Navy Region Northwest after a change of command ceremony on June 18.

Collins relieved Rear Adm. Stephen Barnett, who is leaving the role to become Commander, Navy Region Southwest in San Diego.

Navy Region Northwest covers Washington state, Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Alaska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Minnesota and Iowa.

Collins is from Lake Forest, Calif. He was commissioned as an officer in 1992 and then completed primary fixed-wing training and advanced helicopter training.

Collins was deployed to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf and the Caribbean areas.

Collins also was chief of staff for Commander, Navy installations command before serving as Commander, Navy Region Northwest.