Cmdt. Robert Ralston, a native of Tempe, takes command of the 61st Fleet Logistics Support Squadron, known as “The Islanders”.
The mission of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 is to provide 24-hour global transportation of passengers and cargo in support of all United States Armed Forces.
“I am absolutely honored to have the opportunity to command in the greatest navy on God’s Green Earth,” Ralston said in a prepared statement. “I am proud to continue the tradition of military service honorably and courageously displayed by the Messer and Altman sides of my family. Special thanks to my grandmother Nancy Messer and my mother Barbara Ralston who instilled the values of faith, hard work and service. You are my heroes.
Ralston joined the Navy and departed for boot camp at Recruit Training Command Great Lakes, Illinois on January 1, 1997. Upon graduating from boot camp and being promoted to Seaman Apprentice, Ralston was transferred to Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida, for Naval Air Crew Candidate School and Air Warfare Systems Operator “A” School. He completed both schools as an honor candidate and received an accelerated promotion to the rank of sailor.
Then he transferred to Patrol Squadron 30 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Florida for P-3 Observation School and finally to Naval Air Station Brunswick, Maine as a Warfare Operator third-class accelerated anti-submarine to Patrol Squadron 10 Red. Lancers.
Shortly after arriving, he was selected to attend the expanded Officer Selection and Training opportunity in Newport, Rhode Island. After completing BOOST in the summer of 1999, he enrolled at the University of Arizona on a Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps scholarship where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 2003.
Ralston was selected for pilot training at Training Squadron 3 and Training Squadron 31. Ralston was designated as a Naval Aviator and “Wing” in September 2005.
Ralston’s operational tours began as one of two Naval Airmen to report directly to the C-40A Clippers after completing flight school. His first posting was in February 2006 to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 58 “Sunseekers” in Jacksonville, Florida.
While serving with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 58, Ralston was assigned the duties of Schedule Officer, Line Division Officer, and Order Writing/RESPAY Officer.
In 2009, he traveled to Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas for a tour of the Commander’s Fleet Logistics Support Wing where he served as a training officer and assistant operations officer. .
Then he was transferred across the street to Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 59 “Lone Star Express” for his Department Head tour, as an administrative officer. He was also designated as a C-40A instructor pilot and earned a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida.
In April 2014, Ralston retired from active duty and moved to Richland, Washington, where he began a new career as Mechanical Department Foreman at BNSF Railways and also affiliated as a Selected Reservist with Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 at Whidbey Island, Washington.
As an “Islander”, Ralston served as an assistant Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Instructor Pilot, administrator, and operations officer. Ralston was officer in charge of the three detachment sites of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron, Bahrain Naval Support Activity, Naval Air Station Sigonella and Naval Air Station Atsugi as part of the Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Inherent Resolve and many other operations.
During his 22-year Navy career, Ralston logged more than 3,800 flight hours in the C-40A. He is authorized to wear the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, Navy Unit Commendation Medal, and various other awards.