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New commander takes charge at Naval Air Station Key West

Navy officers at a stage at Naval Air Station Key West
Nancy Klingener
/
WLRN
Navy Capt. Elizabeth Regoli speaks Thursday after formally accepting orders as commanding officer of Naval Air Station Key West.

Navy Capt. Elizabeth Regoli became commanding officer of Naval Air Station Key West Thursday, in a time-honored Navy traditional ceremony with bells, pipes and a brass band.

Regoli will lead the naval air station for the next three years. She's a Navy pilot who has also served as the Naval military aide to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

More recently she was the sexual assault prevention and response program manager at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis.

It's Regoli's first time at this station.

"I would say that this is probably the key prize that everybody dreams of, you know, landing the job of commanding officer of Naval Air Station Key West," she said after the ceremony. "And I'm the one who was the lucky winner."

Regoli relieved Capt. Mark Sohaney, who spent three years as commanding officer at NAS Key West and will now take that position at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii.

Sohaney called NAS Key West "the best kept secret in the Navy. I mean, you're the commanding officer on an island. You're in a waterfront home, you've got a short commute, you're wearing flip-flops. And you're fishing all the time."

Sohaney said the biggest challenge of his three years was dealing with the pandemic.

"COVID made accomplishing our mission tough, but we persevered, and we did it in creative ways," he said. "Virtual meetings through Zoom and chat rooms. Meetings masked, and standing outside. Most visibly was social media."

NAS Key West serves primarily as a base for training Navy pilots. Its Key West facilities also host Joint Interagency Task Force South, the Coast Guard, and an Army Special Forces Underwater Training School.