AYASE, Japan (March 23, 2012) Rear Adm. Sean S. Buck (left) and Rear. Adm. Matthew J. Carter salute during the national anthem at the Fleet Air Forward and the Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces U.S. 5th Fleet/U.S. 7th Fleet (CTF-57/72) change of command ceremony.(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Smelley)

ATSUGI, Japan - Rear Adm. Matthew J. Carter relieved Rear Adm. Sean S. Buck as commander of Fleet Air Forward and Patrol and Reconnaissance Force 5th/7th Fleet during a ceremony March 23.

Leading the command, known as Task Force (CTF) 72 in the Pacific, Buck said that the success of his 19-month tour was attributable to the people with whom he served.

“When I look around today, so honored to have you all in one place where I can thank you, I realize that with a team this outstanding, the success of our commands was never in doubt,” said Buck. “You all made this tour what it was for me, by your tremendous leadership, your daily contributions, your unwavering support, your expert counsel, your candid advice, and your warm, genuine friendship.”

Rear Adm. Buck also spoke about his relief.

“Today, I leave you in the capable hands of Rear Admiral Matt Carter. Matt is as fine an officer as the U.S. Navy has to offer. He’s ready to take lead of this pack, and the pack is ready to support him, and I can’t wait to marvel at the things you’ll accomplish together,” said Buck.

Vice Adm. Scott H. Swift, commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, praised Buck for his outstanding leadership during the past year and presented him a Legion of Merit for his service.

“I can’t think of an operational plan, mission or joint task force in the Western Pacific that doesn’t include a P-3 as a critical element for its success,” said Swift. “Admiral Buck and his team have successfully met all mission requirements and more.” Swift said Buck and his team enabled the United States to project credible, persistent power all around the globe.

“From providing real-world surveillance to forces combating piracy to assisting vessels in distress, you’re first on the scene ensuring we have a clear understanding of the conditions and environment in which we are operating, saving lives and setting the stage for success of both 5th and 7th Fleet,” said Swift. “The combination of your leadership, the talent and dedication of your staff and crews that man your squadrons and fly your missions, has sent a clear, consistent and powerful message throughout the Pacific, Asia and Indo theater: ‘Task Force 72 is here, now, engaged and operating forward.’”

As Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Force 5th / 7th Fleet and Commander, Task Forces 57 and 72, Buck provided administrative oversight, planning, coordination and control of forward deployed Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Forces.

As Commander, Fleet Air Forward, Buck was the type commander in the forward operating areas of 5th and 7th Fleet as executive agent for Commander, Naval Air Forces. His command oversaw naval aviation requirements, policies and programs for Forward Deployed Naval Force aviation units, aviation capable ships, airfields, and air facilities and assisted aviation units operating in the 5th, 6th and 7th Fleets to achieve and maintain the required levels of operational readiness.

He was also the Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Model Manager for U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps UC-12B/F/M series aircraft, and 7th Fleet Air Logistics Commander to support operational logistics for peacetime theater engagement or contingency operations.

Buck was in command during one of the most significant natural disasters in recent world history, the Great Eastern Japan Earthquake of March 11, 2011 and ensuing tsunami. As the operational commander for patrol and reconnaissance aircraft in the region as well as all aviation support and maintenance, his commands were deeply involved in the Navy’s historic humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, now referred to as Operation Tomodachi.

“We spent much of the year 2010 celebrating the 50th anniversary of the (U.S. – Japan) alliance, and we spent much of 2011 demonstrating its worth, following the catastrophic events of March 11,” said Buck. “Together, we learned to grow under crisis conditions and adapt, improvise and to fight the fear of the unknown – with a force that, together, could land on its feet within hours of a disaster and prove by its actions what it means to be a friend.”

Carter, a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, assumed command following a tour as executive assistant to the commander, U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

In addition to thanking Buck for his leadership and the superb condition of the commands he was assuming, Carter had one primary message for his staff.

“Continue to take care of the warfighter, work closely with our allies, partners, and friends, be ready, do your best, and take care of our Sailors, Marines, civilians, and their families,” Carter said. “If we do those things, then everything else will fall into place.”

Buck’s next assignment will be as Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Group in Norfolk, Va.