By Steve Ranson
Nevada News Group
Capt. Shane Tanner, a 24-year military veteran, became Naval Air Station Fallon’s 34th commander during a change of command ceremony Friday.
Tanner assumes command from Capt. Evan Morrison, who is also retiring after a 36-year career that included nine years in the Illinois Air National Guard.
Morrison said his tour at Fallon has been the highlight of his career, guiding the air station through its required training but also overseeing the safety of his sailors and civilian workforce during the coronavirus pandemic. In his farewell speech, Morrison reflected on his career that begun in 1986 when he enlisted in the Air National Guard when he was 17 years old and then joined the Navy to attend Office Candidate School and then flight school after receiving both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Northern Illinois University.
Morrison said wearing the uniform and serving his country is all he’s known during his adult life. Reflecting over the past 36 years, he said he served with gratitude, thankfulness and pride.
“The word ‘serve’ is a common bond for all those who have served,” he said, adding serving is an investment and one of personal character.
Morrison added serving also means sacrifice.
“It’s a sacrifice of time with your family, missed birthdays with your children, spouses and loved ones. Spending holidays in a remote, faraway locations … suffering mental and physical pain that comes with those sacrifices.”
Morrison said he would be willing to encounter those sacrifices again to serve his country. He also mentioned those who served before him and with him and “those who never came back.”
“Dignity and respect is more than a tagline — it’s a way of life,” Morrison said about his career. “I’m a big believer in the relationships we develop.”
Morrison thanked the support he had received, especially from city and county leaders.
Rear Adm. Stephen D. Barnett, commander of Navy Region Southwest, said prior to Morrison’s remarks the change of command is the passing of the torch from one captain to another. Barnett emphasized the importance of family and how they encompass a team effort to make a command successful.
“Every family is part of the team,” he said. “You may not wear the uniform, but you deploy like we do.”
Barnett discussed Morrison’s command at NAS Fallon and how the air station hosted more than 46,000 multiservice and multinational personnel during their various training requirements. During the past three years, Barnett said Morrison oversaw $46 million in construction projects and the Longhorns Sear and Rescue team completing 20 searches and 10 rescues that resulted in eight saved lives.
In addition to becoming involved locally, Barnett said Morrison also engaged with other communities outside Churchill County.
Barnett also took Morrison and the audience through a memorable ride to the 1980s, especially to 1986,the year when Morrison enlisted. Barnett reminisced about the songs of that time and noted the movie “Top Gun” also premiered in 1986.
As he concluded his remarks, Barnett said Morrison is finishing his career by accumulating more than 3,400 hours of flight time in six types of aircraft.
Tanner, a native of New York state and a 1998 graduate of Texas A & M University, said he’s looking forward to working with his local partners, especially with Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford, the county commission and Amber Torres and Cathi Tuni, the tribal chairs of the Walker River Paiute and Fallon Paiute-Shoshone tribes, respectively.
During his flying career, Tanner said it was an honor to fly and serve with Morrison. Tanner has accumulated more than 3,000 hours, logged more than 600 carrier arrested landings and completed 174 combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“We’ve been together on a number of assignments including here at Naval Air Station Fallon,” Tanner said.
Their career paths crossed many times during the previous two decades. They both served together at the Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center in 2004 (formerly known as Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center).
“Admiral, I am honored to take command of this base,” Tanner said. “With the war drums beating in Europe and the rhetoric increasing in the Western Pacific, there can be no better place of relevance in naval aviation and naval warfighting readiness than where we sit right now in this aircraft carrier strategically beached in the high desert.”