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CDR Ken “Spicoli” Petkunas is a native of Sherborn, Massachusetts and attended Villanova University. He graduated in 2007 with a BA in Criminal Justice. CDR Petkunas was commissioned through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps Program and reported to NAS Pensacola, FL for flight training in July 2007. He earned his Naval Aviator Wings in October 2009. In November 2009, CDR Petkunas reported to the Seahawks of HSM-41 for initial fleet training as an MH-60R Pilot.
CDR Petkunas began his operational flying in October 2010 with the “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 at Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, California. While at HSM-77, he deployed twice to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf with CVW-2 aboard USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN (CVN 72), USS STERRETT (DDG 104), USS MOMSEN (DDG 92), and USS NEW ORLEANS (LPD 18) in support of Operations IRAQI FREEDOM, ENDURING FREEDOM, NEW DAWN, and CTF-151 Counter-Piracy Operations. In January 2013, CDR Petkunas helped HSM-77 conduct a homeport shift to Naval Air Station Atsugi, Japan, where he deployed with CVW-5 onboard USS ANTIETAM (CG 54) in the Western Pacific.
In 2014, CDR Petkunas reported to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center (NSAWC) in Fallon, Nevada as a Seahawk Weapons and Tactics Instructor (SWTI). While at NSAWC, he was SEAWOLF’s Subject Matter Expert in Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), Counter-UAS, Defensive Maneuvering, and Low Slow Flyer.
In 2016, CDR Petkunas returned the fleet with the “Shogun” of Carrier Air Wing NINE, a part of the JOHN C. STENNIS Strike Group, as the HSM Operations Officer. Additionally, he served as the Flying Hours Program Manager and the Virtual Exercise Officer, completing five Strike Group Fleet Synthetic Trainers (FST) and TALISMAN SABRE 2017.
CDR Petkunas joined the “Battlecats” of HSM-73 in 2018 as a Department Head. While with the Battlecats, he completed a deployment aboard USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) in support of Operations INHERENT RESOLVE and FREEDOM’S SENTINEL. While assigned to HSM-73, he served as the Training Department Head, Maintenance Officer, and Operations Officer.
Following his Department Head tour, CDR Petkunas reported to Navy Personnel Command in 2020, where he served as PERS-43’s HSM Placement Officer and Helicopter Shore Tour Assignments Officer. While in Millington, he also served as the Head Recorder for the 2023 Aviation Department Head Screen Board.
CDR Petkunas has accumulated over 2,500 flight hours in the MH-60R and MH-60S. His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (3 awards) and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit and campaign awards. He is married to the former Erin Pursley of Little Rock, AR. They have a son, Jack (3).
Last Updated: 21 June 2023