Community leaders, family and friends checked in with the U.S. Coast Guard Friday in Traverse City for a very formal military affair.
The change in command is a long-standing tradition, and a time to say goodbye to the current commander and welcome in a new leader.
This year’s ceremony brought about an extra layer of pomp and circumstance, as outgoing Commanding Officer Christopher Wright is also retiring. “For us to do the missions that we do on a daily basis, and have no loss of life, and save lives is a blessing:”
The “Change of Command” is a ritual at Coast Guard Stations everywhere, and the time has come again for the Change of Command Ceremony in Traverse City. As Commander Wright is leaving his post, Commander Andrew Schanno steps in to take command of the air station.
Cmdr. Christopher Wright (USCG Ret.)
Commander Wright says, “When I came here as a C.O. last year I said that this is a gem and that the community loves to support the coast guard. And I found it to be true.” Commander Schanno says, “It’s just so humbling to see everybody here, to be here with us and to root us on. And then there’s a lot of responsibility there, looking at everybody from the air station that I’m responsible for.”
Normally the change of command ceremony is a biennial event: done once every two years at Air Station Traverse City (In the modern era, the Commanding Officer normally holds the position for two years – but this appears to be the ninth time in Air Station Traverse City’s 77 years [since 1945] where the commander has served less than a full two years). But with the retirement of Commander Wright, the Coast Guard is bringing in a new commander one year early. Schanno says the “number one goal for the Traverse City station is that we stay healthy as a family, continue to do our job and continue to be able to be here to help and support our friends and neighbors throughout Northern Michigan and the Great Lakes.”
It’s not his first time here. Commander Schanno served here as the Aviation Engineering Officer in Traverse City from 2017 to 2020. “I was lucky enough to win the lottery and get to come back to Traverse City,” he says, after serving a one year stint in Alaska.
In his farewell speech, Commander Wright spoke to the community, Commander Schanno, and the men and women of Air Station Traverse City. “Thank you for holding the line. Thank you for standing the watch and it’s going to be amazing to see what air station Traverse City does under the command of Commander Schanno.”
Commander Wright says he will sail the Mediterranean with his family this summer, before retiring to Texas. Commander Schanno’s work has already started in Traverse City.