Growing up in Anaheim, Calif., Navy Commander Erik Franzen dreamt of careers flying planes off aircraft carriers or playing baseball for the Anaheim Angels.
While the major league baseball job never worked out, the Esperanza High School and San Diego State University graduate did get a chance to accomplish his dream and earn his wings of gold.
He also never thought his pilot career would bring him back so close to his hometown.
“I was really excited when I heard that the executive officer job was available at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach,” said Franzen. “My family and I just love this area.”
After joining the Navy through the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps in college, he then attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida. He graduated and was designated as a Naval Aviator in September 1994.
Franzen spent the next 10 years flying the E-2C Hawkeye radar surveillance aircraft and the C-2A Greyhound transport.
He also spent three years as a flight instructor flying the T-45 Goshawk trainer out of Kingsville, Texas.
“I really enjoyed flying the Goshawk while teaching young flight students. It was an outstanding tour, and very different from what I’d done previously,” he said of his time spent in Kingsville.
Franzen has made several overseas deployments onboard the aircraft carriers USS Kitty Hawk, USS Carl Vinson and USS Nimitz.
During those cruises he and the other pilots in the ship’s air wing supported combat operations in the Middle East, including Operation Desert Fox and Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Most recently, Franzen was the executive officer, and later the commanding officer, of Naval Air Facility El Centro, Calif.
“We spent four and a half years in El Centro, which is a pretty long tour by military standards. The people were great, and the mission there is very important for Naval Aviation.”
He is now looking forward to a productive tour as the second in command at Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach.
“The weapons station supplies a majority of the U.S. Pacific Fleet with munitions,” said Franzen. “Our personnel here have collected an amazing number of awards and other recognition of their exceptional efforts. We have important work to do for the Navy and the nation, and I’m honored to be a part of it.”