Vice Admiral Kenneth Whitesell

Commander, Naval Air Forces/Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Mr. Bryan Scurry

Executive Director, Naval Air Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Captain Walt ''Sarge" Slaughter

Chief of Staff, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Force Master Chief H. Trenton Schmidt

Force Master Chief, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet

Commander Brett Elko

Commanding Officer, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79

29 October 2020 Commander Brett Elko hails from Charlotte, North Carolina and earned his commission and bachelor’s degree in physics at the United States Naval Academy in 2002.  He graduated from the George Mason University in 2009 with a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution.

Commander Elko earned his Wings of Gold in 2004 and has piloted the SH-60B and MH-60R helicopters throughout his aviation career.  His tours include detachment Maintenance Officer at HSL-45; Instructor Pilot and Assistant Training Officer at HSM-41; Plank Owner and Quality Assurance Officer at HSM-78; and Squadron Maintenance Officer and Operations Officer at HSM-73.  CDR Elko has gained extensive experience operating from aircraft carriers, destroyers, cruisers, and frigates in support of Third, Seventh, and Fifth Fleet Commanders.  At sea he has served onboard USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), USS Mcclusky (FFG 41), USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).

His assignments to staff billets include Flag Aide to the Commandant, Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, DC, and the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Requirements, Experimentation, and Innovation (N8/N9) at U.S. Third Fleet in San Diego, CA.  Commander Elko’s joint duty assignment was at the White House where he served as the Navy Military Aide to Vice President Joseph R. Biden from 2014 to 2016. 

Commander Elko joined HSM-79 as Executive Officer in November 2019 during the Squadrons inaugural deployment onboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). He assumed command of the Griffins in May 2021.

Commander Elko’s personal awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (3 awards), and the Navy Achievement Medal. 
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