Former Wesson man takes helm of Navy squadron in Meridian
MERIDIAN – A former Wesson resident took the helm of Training Squadron 7 during the first-ever “fly-by” ceremony at Naval Air Station Meridian June 20.
With the change of command, Cmdr. William Thames replaces Cmdr. Michael Hritz, who is leaving to serve as air boss on the USS Nimitz.
“Cmdr. Hritz and I are not big on ceremony, but we are big on tradition so we wanted something different for this change of command,” said Thames, who grew up in Wesson and is a graduate of Mississippi State University. He received his commission in 1995 through the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla.
“It feels great to be in my home state training young men and women to fight for our country.” Thames said of his assignment to Meridian.
Thames grew up in Wesson and graduated from Wesson High School and Copiah-Lincoln Community College before attending MSU, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in aerospace engineering in 1992.
He is the son of retired longtime Co-Lin President Billy B. Thames and Anne Thames, and he is the brother of Rachel Thames Peeples (Larry) and Rebecca Thames Wilson (Brent).
Thames received his commission in 1995 through the Navy’s Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Florida. He earned his wings of gold as a naval aviator in May 1998 from Training Squadron 7 at Meridian before transferring for F/A-18 training in Lemoore, California.
In Thames is a graduate of the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland. In addition, he received a master’s degree in military arts and sciences from Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama.
He deployed twice on the USS Constellation, flying in support of Operation Southern Watch in Iraq, and later, he deployed twice aboard the USS Ronald Reagan flying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
Thames reported to the “Eagles” of Squadron 7 as executive officer in March 2013.
He has 2,500 flight hours and 500 carrier landings. He has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (two strike/flight awards), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (two awards), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards) and other unit and service awards.