NAS squadron VFA-86 welcomes new skipper

CMDR Daniel Krause
CMDR Daniel Krause

Lemoore Naval Air Station’s VFA-86 “Sidewinders” welcomed a new commanding officer during an airborne change of command ceremony held on Saturday, October 1, on board the USS George H.W. Bush.

Cmdr. Daniel Krause, of Snohomish, Washington, relieved Cmdr. Nelson Keyser, a native of Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania, during an aerial ceremony at sea aboard the USS George H.W Bush.

Keyser assumed command of the “Sidewinders” on June 10, 2021, and during his command tour, he led the “Sidewinders” through a vigorous Optimized Fleet Response Plan (OFRP), taking the reins during the maintenance phase and while preparing for a 2022 operational deployment, the squadron commander led the “Sidewinders” through both the air-to-surface and air-to-air Strike Fighter Advanced Readiness Programs, Tailored Ship’s Training Availability, Air Wing Fallon, Composite Training Unit Exercise, and ultimately an operational deployment to the SIXTH Fleet Area of Responsibility (AOR).

Keyser’s leadership with VFA-86 included accumulating 3,692 total flight hours, 880 carrier landings, 2,584 sorties, 109,991 pounds of ordnance expended, 34 reenlistments, 63 advancements, as well as 25-plus years and 100,000-plus Class-A mishap-free flight hours.

As a “Rewinder,” Keyser previously served as a department head in VFA-86 from November 2013 to January 2016.

NAS Cmdr. Nelson Keyser was relieved by Cmdr. Daniel Krause during an aerial change of command  on Oct. 1.
NAS Cmdr. Nelson Keyser was relieved by Cmdr. Daniel Krause during an aerial change of command on Oct. 1.
Photo by U.S. Navy

“Over the course of two operational tours in VFA-86, the Sidewinders have come to occupy a special place in my heart. Serving as the Sidewinder’s 60th Commanding Officer has been the highlight of my naval career, and it was an honor and privilege to be a part of this spectacular team,” said Keyser.

Krause assumed command of the VFA-86 “Sidewinders” as the 61st commanding officer at the beginning of an operational deployment to the Sixth Fleet.

“It’s been an absolute pleasure serving as the executive officer of the “Sidewinders” under the sage leadership of Skipper “DC” Keyser,” he said. “I am honored and privileged to take command of such a fine organization and synchronized team. We look forward to executing our operational deployment in the SIXTH fleet AOR while participating with our NATO allies and strengthening partnerships. Upon our return to NAS Lemoore, our squadron is eager to transition to the F-35C, the U.S Navy’s newest Strike Fighter aircraft.”

Strike Fighter Squadron 86 is an operational fleet squadron flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. VFA-86 is attached to Carrier Air Wing SEVEN  and deployed aboard the USS George H.W. Bush.

The squadron traces its origins to Fighter Squadron 921, based at Naval Air Station St. Louis, Missouri, during the Korean War in February 1951. In July 1955, the squadron was re-designated VA-86 "Sidewinders."

The “Sidewinders” squadron is scheduled to begin a transition to the F-35C aircraft next year.

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