SAN DIEGO (NNS) — Capt. Thomas D. Crowley turned over the reins of USS Boxer (LHD 4) to Capt. Thomas J. Culora in a change of command ceremony June 21 in Boxer’s hangar bay.
Crowley will soon report to the Surface Warfare Directorate on the Chief of Naval Operations’ staff in Washington, D.C., to work with the Current and Future Ships Program.
Crowley commanded Boxer since September 2002, and led the crew safely and successfully through two back-to-back deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, as well as a presidential support mission and two training cycles. Under Crowley’s leadership, Boxer was awarded a Navy Unit Commendation, and won the 2003 Battle Efficiency Award and the 2003 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Fund Award.
“During this tour, I have seen once again the strength of our great country,” he said. “It comes not from Wall Street, Washington, Hollywood, nor even from the technical wizards of Silicon Valley and the defense industry; it comes from the sons and daughters of everyday Americans, and some who want to be Americans, and from the caring families that raise, develop and support these young Americans before and during their time of service.
“Having the privilege to lead Boxer Sailors will always be the highlight of my life,” Crowley added. “I am incredibly proud of the efforts of these 1,000 young Americans. They have flawlessly executed every mission assigned, deploying for 10 of the last 18 months. They have done all this mishap-free and without the loss of a single life – on or off duty. They are truly remarkable.”
Culora, from upstate New York, graduated in 1979 from the School of Visual Arts in New York City with a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree. He began his naval career as an aviator and has since served on the Joint Staff, as commanding officer of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron, Light (HSL) 47, and as air boss aboard USS Peleliu (LHA 5). His academic achievements include two Master’s degrees and a post as a Federal Executive Fellow at the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University.
Culora, who also served as Boxer’s executive officer, said he’s pleased to be back aboard.
“It is an awesome privilege to be returning to Boxer as the commanding officer,” he said. “This is a magnificent ship with an outstanding crew, and I am excited to be joining and leading the Boxer warfighting team.”
Culora has many plans for his time as commanding officer.
“My broad goals for Boxer initially are to maintain Boxer in a battle ready condition,” said Culora. “Subsets of this goal are to have a safe and successful Planned Maintenance Availability and to be prepared for our Inspection and Survey in all respects. I will also focus on crew development and caring for them and their family’s well being, as well as sustaining a high level of warfighting proficiency through training and education.”
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