Holmes relieves Lazenka, takes the helm at VX-30
Cmdr. Devin Holmes relieved Cmdr. Colette Lazenka as commanding officer of the "Bloodhounds" of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 30 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California, on Nov. 2.
Surrounded by the vast steel structure of their hangar and standing proudly under the American flag, VX-30 stood on the precipice of change, celebrating past achievements while charting a course for new horizons.
Lazenka assumed command of VX-30 in May 2022, making history as the first woman to command the Bloodhounds.
During Lazenka's tenure, the squadron witnessed notable progress, particularly with the E-2D West Coast Test and Tactics team, which was pivotal in elevating Navy interoperability and integration with the aircraft. In addition to her command responsibilities, Lazenka achieved a personal milestone by completing her Ph.D.
Capt. David Halpern, commodore of Naval Test Wing Pacific, commended Lazenka for her impactful leadership and strategic accomplishments.
"Under her steadfast leadership, VX-30 assumed the role of fleet model manager for the P-3 type/model/series aircraft and successfully integrated the NC-20G Gulfstream IV aircraft into the squadron inventory, significantly bolstering the Navy's capacity in range surveillance and clearance support," Halpern added.
Lazenka expressed a deep sense of pride in the squadron's accomplishments.
"I have never been a part of a squadron or group that has had as many successes as the Bloodhounds," Lazenka said.
The squadron not only raised the bar but smashed right through it. Twice in succession, they snagged the title Naval Air Systems Command Sailor of the Year — a success Lazenka noted as "unheard of anywhere," showcasing the exceptional dedication of her team.
While time often speeds by during periods of intense work and significant achievement, Lazenka found a different cadence to her tenure.
"I wish I could say the past 18 months have flown by, but they haven't, and I'm so thankful for that," said Lazenka.
She ended her remarks with a pause, expressing her deep honor to be a part of the squadron.
"From the bottom of my heart, I'm truly honored to call myself a Bloodhound," she concluded.
As she transitions to a new role within NAWCWD, Halpern thanked her for her dedicated service.
"Today, as we bid farewell to Commander Lazenka, I am honored to acknowledge the exceptional contributions she has made during her tenure as the commanding officer of VX-30," Halpern stated.
As Holmes assumes leadership, Halpern expects that commitment to excellence will continue.
"We welcome Commander Holmes as the new commanding officer of VX-30," Halpern continued, "the future of flight test and test support is bright."
Holmes is the 21st person to lead the Bloodhounds and has firsthand knowledge of VX-30 operations having served as chief test pilot since May 2022.
After expressing gratitude for the support from his parents, wife, and children, Holmes redirected the spotlight to Lazenka and the steadfast team he now commands.
"First, Colette, you've made a significant impact on many of us. Thank you for everything," Holmes said.
"I'm glad you're staying at Point Mugu, so we don't have to say goodbye. We get to say 'see you around,'" he continued.
He reflected on the team's past and looked ahead.
"Over the last year and a half, I've come to know you all and see what you do well," Holmes said. "Colette highlighted many of the squadron's achievements, and I want to take a minute to discuss what makes it all work."
He then outlined his leadership approach.
"To build a highly effective team, especially a small one, there's a simple two-step process. Step one is to get great people," he explained.
Holmes paused, then emphasized, "Step two is to figure it out."
Elaborating on his leadership philosophy, he stated, "Now, step two isn't really a step. It's a way to encompass everything else that has to happen and focus on what matters most: to start with great people."
Holmes also spoke about the importance of dedication and focus for continued success.
"I'm highly confident that with your talent, teamwork, and commitment to excellence, we're going to figure the rest out, and you'll continue to thrive," Holmes said.
Directly addressing the squadron, he noted that step one was already complete — he has a great team with VX-30. “Bloodhounds, I'm humbled and honored to be the commanding officer of an all-star team.”
Holmes, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in May 2005 with a Bachelor of Science in aerospace engineering. He completed flight training and earned his Naval Aviator wings in August 2007. He flew with Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 and VP-5, deploying to the SOUTHCOM, CENTCOM, EUCOM, and INDOPACOM areas of responsibility.
To read more about Holmes, visit VX-30’s home page at https://www.navair.navy.mil/nawcwd/VX30.