Capt. Clayton "Clay" Conley relieved Capt. Daniel Boyles as Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, on Jan. 31 during a change of command ceremony at Ocean Breeze Conference Center. Guest speaker for the event was Rear Adm. Mike Shoemaker, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic.
Boyles, a native of Mount Prospect, Ill., was commissioned through the University of Illinois NROTC program in 1986, where he earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Mathematics. He was designated a Naval Aviator in June 1988.
Boyles flew the SH-2F Seasprite during his initial sea assignment in HSL-35 and made two deployments to the Western Pacific and Indian Ocean in USS Sides (FFG 14) and USS Reasoner (FF 1063). Captain Boyles then transferred to HSL-41 in February 1992, where he transitioned to SH-60B Seahawk and served as an Instructor Pilot.
In September 1994, Boyles reported to USS Juneau (LPD 10), located at Naval Station San Diego, where he served as Air Boss and deployed to the Central Pacific and Persian Gulf. During this tour Captain Boyles earned his Officer of the Deck (Underway) and Surface Warfare Officer Qualifications.
In June 1999, Boyles returned to San Diego, California, and reported to HSL-47 where he served as Safety Officer, Operations Officer and completed a Caribbean Counter Narcotics deployment as Officer-in-Charge of Detachment Six in USS Doyle (FFG 39).
In September 2004, he returned to HSL-47 as Executive Officer and on December 8, 2006 he took command of the Saberhawks. During this tour the Saberhawks won the coveted Secretary of Defense Maintenance Award, the Lockheed Martin Superior HSL Maintenance Award and the Capt. Arnold J. Isbell award for tactical excellence. In addition, the Saberhawks participated in Tsunami and Hurricane Katrina relief efforts while completing two USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group deployments.
His shore assignments included tours to the Director Assessments Division (N81) on the staff of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Resources, Requirements, and Assessment) and to NORAD and US Northern Command Interagency Liaison Office in Washington D.C. Boyles reported to Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in February 2011 as Deputy Commodore. He became the Wing's 16th Commodore in August 2012.
Boyles holds a Masters Degree in Operations Research from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and a Masters Degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College, Fort McNair, Washington D.C.
Conley is a native of Lexington, Okla., and graduate of Oklahoma State University. He received his commission in September 1988 through the Aviation Officer Candidate School Program and was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1989.
Upon completion of SH-2F fleet replacement pilot training with the HSL-31 "Arch Angels", he reported to the HSL-33 "Sea Snakes", NAS North Island, CA, where he served from August 1990 until January 1994. He deployed with USS Copeland (FFG 25) in the Western Pacific and USS Reid (FFG 30) in the Red Sea and Arabian Gulf. He also deployed as Detachment Officer in Charge aboard USS Lewis B. Puller (FFG 23) in the Eastern Pacific. He served as the squadron ASW Officer, Quality Assurance Officer, and NATOPS Officer, completing his first operational tour with more than 1,000 flight hours in the SH-2F.
Following a short assignment at Helicopter Anti-Submarine Light Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Conley transitioned to fly the SH-60B. He subsequently served as an SH-60B instructor pilot with the HSL-41 "Seahawks" from April 1995 until October 1997 serving as Schedules Officer, Pilot Training Officer, and CNAP SH-60B NATOPS Evaluator.
Conley reported for duty aboard USS Essex (LHD 2) in November 1997 where he served as the Flight Deck Officer and Assistant Air Officer. In April 2000, he joined the HSL 45 "Wolfpack" where he served as the squadron's Operations Officer and Detachment Three Officer in Charge aboard USS Oldendorf (DD 972), conducting counter-narcotic operations in the Eastern Pacific.
Conley was then assigned to the Joint C4ISR Battle Center at U.S. Joint Forces Command (USJFCOM) in Norfolk, Virginia, where he was responsible for assessments of advanced C4ISR technologies. He also graduated from the Joint Forces Staff College while assigned to USJFCOM.
In April 2005, Conley reported as the Executive Officer of the HSL-49 "Scorpions" and assumed duties as Commanding Officer from June 2006 to August 2007. Following his command tour, he served as Air Operations Officer for Commander, Task Force 70 / Carrier Strike Group FIVE in Yokosuka, Japan.
Conley completed a second command tour from April 2010 until May 2012 with the HSM-40 "Airwolves", the Navy's East Coast MH-60R and single site SH-60B Fleet Replacement Squadron. He assumed the duties as Deputy Commander, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing, U.S. Atlantic Fleet in August 2012.