January 18, 2021

Art & Lifestyle:

Hobbs Serving in French Navy Exchange Program


A St. Mary’s Ryken High School graduate and US Navy pilot is serving in an exchange program with the French Marine Nationale.

LT CMDR Thomas Hobbs of St. Leonard is participating in the French Navy’s Personnel Exchange Program. He has been responsible for flying the MH-60S operationally and the T-6B as an instructor.

“I am currently flying the AS-65 Dauphin with the French Navy,” the lieutenant commander said.

LT CMDR Hobbs, a 1999 SMR grad and 2007 University of Maryland graduate, joined the Navy 18 years ago, shortly after 9/11.

“Growing up close to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, I remember seeing naval aircraft everywhere and thinking about how cool it would be to do that for a job,” he said. “Somewhere along the way I decided to take a swing at it, and fortunately, I was able to realize my goals.”

The Personnel Exchange Program provides one-for-one exchanges between the US Navy and personnel from other military services, including foreign services. The objective of the program is to integrate participants into the host organization as though they belonged to the service to which they are assigned.

“I’m currently on an exchange with the French Marine Nationale, living and working in Southern France,” LT CMDR Hobbs said. “The challenge of daily activities here is what I find the most gratifying. My job is 100 percent in French, both in the aircraft, and on the ground. I thought that my French was good when I arrived here, but I’ve been able to see it improve monumentally over the last couple of years.”

According to Mr. Hobbs, the values required to succeed in the Navy are similar to those found in St. Leonard.

“Growing up in Southern Maryland, for me, was like living in a Norman Rockwell picture,” he said. “It was the type of place where people would go out of their way to help someone in need on the side of the road just because that’s what decent people do. I think when you are raised in that environment, you become part of a community and you realize that there are things bigger than yourself. That translates directly to being a member of a team and working together to accomplish a task, which is what we do in US naval aviation and the US Navy overall.”

Though there are many ways for sailors to earn distinction in their command, community, and career, LT CMDR Hobbs is most proud of his time as a flight instructor in Pensacola, FL.

“For nearly three years I had the honor of taking student naval aviators, many of whom had never piloted an aircraft before, and not only teaching them how to fly, but watching them become competent aviators,” he said.

As a member of the US Navy, the lieutenant commander, as well as other sailors, know they are a part of a service tradition providing unforgettable experiences through leadership development, world affairs and humanitarian assistance. Their efforts will have a lasting effect around the globe and for generations of sailors who will follow.

“To me, serving in the Navy means that I have the good fortune to put on a uniform every day and lead the men and women that I love to work with,” he said.

This article was written by MC2 Ethan Carter of the Navy Office of Community Outreach.

For more about Lexington Park, visit the St. Mary’s County Community Development Corporation’s Leader member page.

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