Lt. Cmdr. Chad Henderson, Direct and Time Sensitive Strike Weapons (PMA-242) class desk engineer, receives the Naval Air Station Patuxent River 2022 Admiral Merlin O'Neill Officer of the Year award from Col. Neil Johnson, U.S. Army (ret.), a representative from the Military Officers Association of America during a ceremony Nov. 10 on base (U.S. Navy photo)

Navy Lt. Cmdr. named O’Neill Officer of the Year

Lt. Cmdr. Chad Henderson received Naval Air Station Patuxent River 2022 Admiral Merlin O’Neill Officer of the Year award during a ceremony Nov. 10 on base.

The Military Officers Association of America (MOAA) local representative Col. Neil Johnson, U.S. Army (ret.), presented the award to Henderson who was recognized as a junior officer that has demonstrated superior performance and leadership, with an emphasis on volunteer activities and involvement in the community. 

“Chad is an exemplary naval officer and leader in both our office and the community,” said Capt. Alex Dutko, the Direct and Time Strike Weapons (PMA-242) program manager who oversees Henderson. “This award reflects his sustained superior performance and clearly reflects those values that Admiral O’Neill espoused throughout his career.”

Henderson is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and earned his wings in 2012. He attended the Empire Test Pilots’ School in 2017 and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the Naval Post Graduate School.

He has supported Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 at Pax River, working as the F/A-18 A-F and T-45 project officers. He served as the officer-in-charge of multiple detachments, leading pilots, engineers and maintenance personnel to complete the KC-46 in-flight refueling capability for Navy aircraft. Currently, Henderson serves as the class desk engineer for PMA-242 and leads a team of more than 100 engineers to support 18 weapons systems, including the Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile-Extended Range (AARGM-ER) integration on Navy and Air Force aircraft.

Outside of work, Henderson is active in the local community and volunteers for the Navy Patuxent River Sailing Club and serves as a youth group leader and Sunday school teacher at his church.

The Southern Maryland Chapter of MOAA established the Admiral Merlin O’Neill award in 1981 to recognize exemplary junior officers assigned to duties at NAS Patuxent River. This award is named in honor of Admiral Merlin O’Neill, Commandant of the Coast Guard from 1950 to 1954, and a southern Maryland resident in his later years.  

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