Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron FOUR SIX (HSM-46) held a change of command ceremony on Aug. 2 at Naval Station Mayport. Cmdr. Manuel Pardo relieved Cmdr. Michael O’Neill as the squadron’s commanding officer.

Originally established in 1988 as HSL-46, today HSM-46 trains and supports combat-ready detachments of pilots, aircrew, and maintenance technicians for assignment and deployment aboard U.S. Navy surface combatants.

O’Neill assumed command of the Grandmasters in May 2017. During his tenure as commanding officer, he oversaw the squadron’s deployment of four MH-60R helicopter detachments, and received the “Battle E” award.

O’Neill’s sea-duty tours include HSL-51, based at NAS Atsugi, Japan, HSM-71 in San Diego, CA and HSM-70, where he served as the squadron’s Operations Officer onboard USS George H. W. Bush for her maiden deployment to Fifth Fleet. After completing his first sea tour, O’Neill was selected as one of six MH-60R Cadre Pilots at VX-1 overseeing the Navy’s transition to the MH-60R helicopter. Following that tour, he reported to the West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, HSM-41, to fly the MH-60R and to standup HSM-71, the Navy’s first operational MH-60R squadron. He went on to serve as Nuclear Strike Advisor and lead Exercise Planner assigned to U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) from 2012-2014. O’Neill has accumulated over 3,000 flight hours in model.

Pardo, a native of Miami, Fla., graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Economics.  He was winged a Naval Aviator in 2002 and reported to the “Airwolves” of HSL-40, where he qualified in the SH-60B Seahawk helicopter.  He also holds Master’s Degrees in Business Administration from the University of Florida and National Security and Strategic Studies from the U.S. Naval War College.

Pardo’s sea-duty tours include HSL-42, where as a “Proud Warrior” he deployed to the SOUTHCOM AOR aboard USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) and in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom aboard USS Normandy (CG 60); HSM-70, where he served as Quality Assurance Officer during the ramp-up for the “Spartans” inaugural MH-60R deployment to the 5th Fleet AOR aboard USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77); and the “Swamp Foxes” of HSM-74 where he served as a Detachment Officer-in Charge and the Squadron Maintenance Officer aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75)  in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Additionally, he has deployed to NATO Air Training Command-Afghanistan serving as Director of Operations to the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Squadron.

Pardo’s shore-duty tours include HSL-40, as an FRS Instructor Pilot in Mayport, FL, where he served as the Training Schedules and Assistant Training Officer, and United States Central Command (USCENTCOM) in Tampa, Fla., as Lead Exercise Planner while assigned to the J7, Director of Exercises and Training.

Taking over as HSM-46’s Executive Officer is Cmdr. David Bizzarri. He is a native of Fairfax, Virginia and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 2001, where he received a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He earned a Master of Science in Business Administration from the University of Florida in 2010 and is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College (non-resident program).

He served in a variety of training and operational squadrons including HSL-42, HSL-40, and HSM-70.