Change of Command Ceremony – Air Station Traverse City

Written By Amanda Renkiewicz

Photos by Air Station Traverse City

On Friday, June 17, Rear Adm. Michael Johnston, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District, presided over a change of command ceremony at Air Station Traverse City, introducing Andrew Schanno as the new Commanding Officer. Change of command ceremonies are time-honored traditions deeply rooted in American military history. The event signifies a total transfer of responsibility, authority, and accountability for command of the air station from Cmdr. Christopher Wright, the outgoing commanding officer, to incoming commanding officer Cmdr. Andrew Schanno. It demonstrates that there is a continuity of command without interruption or pause. The ceremony was attended by all members of the unit, so they could witness the transfer of leadership firsthand. Several family members, community leaders, and friends of the officers involved were also in attendance, including the local Veterans Coalition and the Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Group. 

Schanno, who served previously at Air Station Traverse City, returned after serving as the executive officer at Air Station Sitka, Alaska. He and his family are currently navigating the maze of boxes to unpack in their new home and are experiencing the calming effect of getting their belongings back from the moving company. Despite having two small children, Andy says the move was rather painless. The kids showed a lot of resiliencies in moving, and his daughter fell in love with a wisely purchased unicorn sleeping bag and good air mattress. Their welcome to the area has been as warm as the northern Michigan summer weather. “We’ve seen several of our old neighbors who came to the ceremony, and while there are a lot of new faces, everyone is smiling,” Andy says. “It doesn’t feel like we’re arriving at a new place, it feels like we’re coming home.” 


For Andy, the ceremony brought to the forefront the importance of family. He was sitting next to outgoing Commander Wright and looked down to see his daughter with Cmdr. Wright’s daughter, sharing a coloring book and crayons. “It was one of my favorite parts,” he says. “They had moved to sit by each other, and I realized that even with all of the pomp and circumstance of the ceremony, family is always there, and always important.”  


“The ceremony itself was amazing,” Andy continues. “I’ve put these together in the past and helped prepare the hangar deck. I’ve seen the ceremony and ones like it several times over my twenty-six years, and to be there on stage was an awesome perspective. It was very humbling to look out at the audience, knowing these people were there to support me and Chris Wright. There’s a tradition in the ceremony where I salute the admiral and ask permission to take over from Chris, and we salute each other, and then I relieve him of his duty. This has been done for over 100 years, and it very clearly puts into your head that this is real. You’re now in charge and responsible. It’s meaningful and serves as a reminder of the responsibilities that I have as the Commanding Officer of Air Station Traverse City. It was one of those career milestone days that if you’re lucky enough to have, you don’t ever forget.” 


As someone familiar with Traverse City (and our hectic tourist season), Commander Schanno is ready to hit the ground running. “I’m fortunate that I was here as an Aviation Officer in the past, so I know what I’m getting into,” Andy laughs. “We have a big part in the Cherry Festival Air Show and the parades, and it’s our busy time of year. The Air Station has a great relationship with the local community and our leaders, and I’m so excited to be part of it again. It’s going to be a wonderful experience to be here as the Commanding Officer for me, and for my family.” 

Our upcoming July/August issue of Gather Veterans Warriors Heroes magazine will feature the incoming Commander to subscribe click here –> Subscribe Today

To watch the full ceremony click here –> https://fb.watch/dWJpm9CPs5/