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Captain Ross "JR" Drenning

Captain Ross "JR" Drenning of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1999 and earned his Wings of Gold in Pensacola, Florida in 2001. He received his initial SH-60B training with the HSL-41 “Seahawks” in San Diego, California.
Captain Drenning’s initial operational assignment was with the HSL-51 “Warlords” in Atsugi, Japan from 2002-2005.  He made multiple deployments in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM (OIF) and ENDURING FREEDOM (OEF) on USS Gary (FFG 51) and USS Obrien (DD 975).  He was also part of the first FDNF HSL Detachment while deployed on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63).
Captain Drenning reported in 2005 to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in Fallon, Nevada.   He is a graduate of the Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor (SWTI) course, and was the SWTI Program Manager of the Rotary Wing Weapons School.  In 2008 Drenning reported to Carrier Air Wing TWO (CVW-2), as the CVW-2 Helicopter Operations Officer in San Diego, California.  He deployed on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in support of OIF, OEF, and CTF-151 Counter-Piracy Operations.  There he transitioned from the SH-60B/F/H to the MH-60R/S.
For his Department Head tour in 2010, Drenning reported to the HSM-77 “Saberhawks” and deployed as the Detachment THREE Officer-in-Charge onboard USS Shoup (DDG 86) and USS Sterett (DDG 104) in support of OEF and CTF-151. He deployed again as the Squadron Operations Officer on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72).  He was selected as the Commander Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Pacific (CHSMWP) Tactician of the Year for 2011, and then CHSMWP Officer of the Year for 2012.
In 2012 Captain Drenning reported to the National Military Command Center, Joint Staff, in Washington, DC where he served as a Presidential Strike Advisor, and later as the Chief of Training for the Operations and Training Support Division of the J-33 Directorate.
Captain Drenning assumed command of HSM-73 “BattleCats” in February 2017.  He deployed on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) supporting operations VALIENT SHEILD and FREEDOMS SENTINAL. Under his Command, HSM-73 received the CNAF Admiral “Jimmy” Thach Award, CVW-17 Golden Wrench, and Safety “S”. Captain Drenning was also selected as the 2017 NHA RADM Tomaszeski Squadron Commanding Officer Leadership Award Winner.
Following Command, he was assigned to Naval Personnel Command as the Helicopter Aviation Commander Assignments Detailer, and also was the Director of the My Navy Call Center. He finished his tour as the PERS-43 Deputy Director and Head Aviation Placement.
Most recently, Captain Drenning Commanded HSM-40 “Airwolves” Fleet Replacement Squadron from March 2020 - April 2021. In December 2021 he reported to Team BARBWIRE of CVW-11 to serve as Deputy Commander. In July 2023, he assumed duties as Commander, Carrier Air Wing ELEVEN.
Captain Drenning has accumulated over 4,300 total flight hours and earned NATOPS qualifications in all five naval variants of the H-60 (B/F/H/R/S) aircraft. His personal awards include a Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), Air Medal (Strike/Flight), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (six awards), and various unit commendations, service and campaign awards.

Last Updated: 16 August 2023

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