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A native of North Bend, Nebraska, Commander Saalfeld was commissioned out of the U.S. Naval Academy in 2005, earning a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering, and graduated from UCLA in 2006, earning a Masters in Environmental Engineering. CDR Saalfeld reported to NAS Pensacola, FL for flight training in October 2006. He earned his Naval Aviator Wings in January 2008. In March 2008, CDR Saalfeld reported to the HS-10 “Warhawks” for initial fleet training in the SH-60F and HH-60H.
CDR Saalfeld began his operational flying in November 2008 with the “Dragonslayers” of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron ELEVEN (HS-11). While a “Slayer”, he made a deployment aboard USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) within hours of the 2010 Haiti earthquake, participating in Operation UNIFIED RESPONSE. On deployment aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN 69) he participated in Operation ENDURING FREEDOM, Operation NEW DAWN, and anti-piracy operations resulting in the capture of 75 Somali pirates. During this tour, CDR Saalfeld graduated from the Navy Mountain Flying School and was selected as HS-11 Pilot of the Year for 2010.
CDR Saalfeld reported to Helicopter Sea Combat (HSC) Weapons School Atlantic in February 2012 and qualified in the MH-60S. He became a Weapons and Tactics Instructor (WTI) through the Rotary Wing Weapons School in Fallon, NV in November 2012. While a WTI he served as the Helicopter Advanced Readiness Program officer responsible for preparing all expeditionary detachments and carrier based East coast HSC squadrons for upcoming deployments.
CDR Saalfeld returned to the fleet in September 2014 as the helicopter air wing staff officer in Carrier Air Wing ONE (CVW-1). While with CVW-1, he completed a nine-month circumnavigation deployment aboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN 71) in support of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE, supporting the last active-duty operational deployment of the SH-60F and HH-60H. Upon return, he organized all aviation events for the 2016 New York Fleet Week.
CDR Saalfeld reported as a Department Head in June 2016 to the “Dragon Whales” of HSC-28. While with HSC-28, he completed Officer in Charge (OIC) detachments with the “Ghost Riders” supporting Commander Sixth Fleet in Naples, Italy, and another for workups aboard USS IWO JIMA (LHD 7). He served as both Administrative Officer and Operations Officer, and was the first fleet pilot to qualify in HSC Mine Countermeasure and Neutralization missions. His crew received the 2017 National Helicopter Association Aircrew of the Year for rescues in Houston, TX, during Hurricane Harvey.
Following his department head tour, CDR Saalfeld served as a team chief, Strategic Command, J-5 Nuclear Directorate. While on the staff, he supported the production and quality review of all submarine and aircraft launched nuclear weapons plans. He was selected for squadron command in March 2019 and reported to HSC-12 as Executive Officer in March 2022.
CDR Saalfeld has accumulated over 2,700 flight hours. His awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal, Navy/Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4 awards), and Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal (3 awards), and various service awards and ribbons.
Last Updated: 7 September 2023