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Helo squadron CO fired after improperly handling mishap

Oct. 16, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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Cmdr. Ruben Ramos, former commander of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25. (Navy)

The commanding officer of a Guam-based helicopter squadron has been relieved after improperly handling a mishap in his unit, the Navy confirmed Wednesday.

Cmdr. Ruben Ramos, of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 25, was fired Oct. 8 by Capt. F.J. “Jack” Schuller, commodore of Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Pacific Fleet.

Capt. Larry Vincent unceremoniously took over leadership of the “Island Knights” the same day.

“Cmdr. Ramos was not present in Guam for the action and there was no turnover event either publicly or privately,” said Cmdr. Kevin Stephens, spokesman for Naval Air Forces.

Vincent, who is deputy commander at the Helicopter Sea Combat Wing, will lead the unit until a permanent relief is named.

Ramos should have had at least another six months to serve as the squadron CO.

“The early change of command resulted from an administrative decision by [Schuller] to make a change in leadership at the squadron,” Stephens said.

While Stephens said this leadership change was not intended to be “a punitive action,” Schuller’s decision was tied to deficiencies highlighted in a recent Navy Judge Advocate General’s Manual investigation regarding squadron maintenance.

“[The investigation] revealed Cmdr. Ramos had improperly authorized an HSC-25 helicopter to return to base without all required maintenance checks, after it sustained damage from striking a tree during a landing Aug. 28,” Stephens said. “While this decision was determined to be improper, Capt. Schuller determined that it did not rise to the level of misconduct.”

Stephens said the JAGMAN was the “key factor” in Schuller’s decision to relieve Ramos, but that the captain also weighed “the entirety of Cmdr. Ramos’ tour as CO before deciding to make the change,” he said.

The squadron’s executive officer, Cmdr. Alexander Anderson, was replaced at the same time for “a personal issue” that Stephens said was “unrelated to the current circumstances” involving Ramos.

Both Ramos and Anderson have been reassigned to other jobs in Guam units while awaiting permanent change-of-station orders. Neither officer is facing disciplinary action, Stephens confirmed.

Anderson’s replacement, Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Merritt, is wrapping up an assignment with a helicopter fleet replacement squadron in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be in place in the next few weeks. Merritt is expected to to assume the duties as executive officer, complete a normal executive officer tour and eventually fleet up to take command of the squadron.

Anderson is the second consecutive HSC-25 XO to leave the squadron without fleeting up. Cmdr. Kyle G. Strudthoff, the previous XO to Anderson, was relieved as XO in August 2012 after an investigation “confirmed he struck a junior officer during a squadron social event.” He was convicted at captain’s mast Sept. 11, 2012, of conduct unbecoming an officer.

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