LaFond retires from U.S. Navy after 30 years

MILLINGTON, Tenn. – Navy Master Chief Ray H. LaFond was honored with a retirement ceremony held on April 11 in Millington, Tenn.

Born in Escanaba in 1966 to the late Raymond and Ethel LaFond, the veteran enlisted in the U.S. Navy on June 20, 1983, under the Delayed Entry Program. He completed recruit training at RTC-Great Lakes, Ill. Upon completion, he attended Aviation Machinist Mate “A” school at NTTC Millington, Tenn.

Master Chief LaFond’s previous duty assignments include: HELSUPPRON-FOUR (HC-4) Sigonella, Sicily from 1985-87. He held various positions from plane captain, power plant technician, collateral duty inspector, mid-check supervisor, and was promoted to Third Class Petty Officer.

During this time, HC-4 was doing heavy lifting of personnel and cargo throughout Europe, and provided airlift support for the Multi Peace Keeping Force in Beirut, Lebanon.

LaFond then served as a crew leader and assistant floor manager at NAS Lemoore, Calif., AIMD Power Plant Division, after which, he was promoted to Second Class Petty Officer and then transferred to the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), IM2 Division as an engine test cell operator where he made two Western Pacific deployments in support of Operation Desert Shield/Storm.

He was promoted to First Class Petty Officer and then made a second tour at AIMD Lemoore, Calif, in which he served as production control supervisor.

After being selected to Chief Petty Officer in 1998, he receive orders to VFA-22 as a maintenance control chief responsible for releasing aircraft safe for flight. In 2001, while deployed on the USS Carl Vinson after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack, VFA-22 conducted 634 combat sorties and delivered over 300 tons of ordnance in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, directly contributing to the fall of the Taliban regime. Additionally, he was promoted to Senior Chief Petty Officer and made a combat deployment.

In June 2002, he transferred to VFA-125 and served as the Maintenance Leading Senior Chief Petty Officer responsible for 521 Sailors, Marines, and civilians in 16 production work centers, performing scheduled/unscheduled maintenance on 51 F/A-184/B/C/D aircraft.

LaFond received orders to VFA-14 in 2005. He was the Maintenance Control Chief and promoted to Master Chief Petty Officer where he made four combat deployments on the USS NIMITZ conducting flight operations over Iraq and Afghanistan.

In 2010, he assumed the duties as the Aviation Maintenance Master Chief Detailer in Millington, responsible for 274 Aviation Maintenance Master Chiefs in career progression and assignments. Additionally, he was the PERS-404 Senior Enlisted Advisor.

For his military service, LaFond was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and five Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.

LaFond is married to the former Laura Unger of Fresno, Calif., and the couple are the parents of five children, Mary, Nancy, Austin, Ian, and Kevin.

The retiree is one of nine children. His siblings include five sisters, Linda Stannard, Michele Olson, Penny LaForest, Karen Maki, and Mary Vandermissen, and three brothers, Steve, David and Jim LaFond.