DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. – Capt. Ralph F. DeWalt II assumed command of Navy Operational Support Center Atlanta from Capt. David T. Fritz on July 11 in a ceremony attended by members of the Cobb County Chamber of Commerce and other dignitaries, including the deputy regional commander of the Navy’s Reserve Component Command.
With 1,300 reservists assigned to nearly 30 units, and a full-time staff of 38 military members and civilians, NOSC Atlanta is the fifth-largest Navy facility of its kind.
“We couldn’t be more honored to be in this community, because Cobb County is committed to its sailors, Marines and guardsmen,” said Fritz, who had served as the commanding officer of NOSC Atlanta since April 2013.
DeWalt, of Fairfax, Virginia, graduated from the Naval Academy in 1993 and earned a master’s degree from the Naval War College in 2010.
Designated a naval aviator in 1996, he served with Patrol Squadron 4 in Hawaii, deploying three times, and with Training Squadron 28 in Texas before transitioning to full-time support status with the Navy Reserve in 2003. Since then, he served with Reconnaissance Squadron 46 in Georgia; with Fleet Reserve Squadron 1 in Maryland as a flag pilot for the secretary of the Navy; and with Reconnaissance Squadron 52 in New Jersey as its commanding officer.
He also served tours at the Pentagon and, most recently, at U.S. Pacific Command.
Describing Fritz as “the kind of person and leader we all strive to be,” DeWalt said he looked forward to carrying on his tradition of taking care of the people of NOSC Atlanta.
The change-of-command ceremony was followed by a retirement ceremony for Fritz, a Vero Beach, Florida, resident whose father served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and whose brother – an Equipment Operator with the Seabees – recently was selected for advancement to Chief Petty Officer.
Fritz was commissioned from the Navy ROTC program at Virginia Tech in 1989 and designated a naval aviator in 1992.
He served with Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121, completing multiple deployments aboard the carrier USS George Washington, and as an instructor pilot with VAW 120 before transitioning to full-time support status in 2002. He next served with VAW 77, earning the Navy Reserve’s Hawkeye of the Year award, and as officer in charge of VAW 78. After serving on the staff of the chief of naval operations, he returned as commanding officer to VAW 77, which earned – among other honors – the McCampbell Trophy as the Naval Air Forces Reserve’s squadron of the year. Before reporting to NOSC Atlanta, he completed a tour with Navy Personnel Command.
Capt. Shawn Duane, the deputy commander of the Navy Reserve’s Region Southeast, presented Fritz with a Legion of Merit award during the retirement ceremony, and retired Cmdr. L. Michael Shetler, who was a midshipman with Fritz at Virginia Tech and remained a close friend throughout their careers, served as the guest speaker.
It would be impossible to exaggerate how committed Fritz was to his troops, Shetler said before inviting members of the NOSC Atlanta staff to share their own thoughts with him.
“You were an inspirational and outstanding leader from the moment you stepped on board,” Petty Officer 3rd Class Ricky Holbert, of NOSC Atlanta’s medical department, told Fritz.
“Remain calm and be kind,” said Chief Petty Officer Cornell Blanche, quoting from what he called “The 10 commandments of D.T. Fritz.”
“To command is to serve – nothing more, nothing less,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Calvin Crawford, who served as Fritz’s command master chief. Fritz, he said, was “hands down, the best.”