Navy Capt. Thomas Frosch, Boss of the Blues since 2012, takes his last ride with awe-inspiring Blue Angels on Saturday. Next year, he'll be on the sidelines, sitting at a desk. And he'll have to see and hear his beloved Blues flying without him. Because Frosch, commanding officer of the famed Naval Flight Demonstration Squadron based at Pensacola Naval Air Station, will be just down the road.
Frosch will join the Naval Aviation Training Command aboard NAS after the season ends Saturday.
"I'll be right down the street,'' Frosch said Thursday during interviews preceding Friday and Saturday's season-ending homecoming show at NAS. Afterward, Frosch will hand over command of the elite squadron to Navy Cmdr. Ryan Bernacchi of Mountain View, California, for the 2016 season, the 70th anniversary of the Blue Angels.
While most Blue Angel officers and enlisted transfer to different bases after their Blue Angels' tenure ends, Frosch will hear the roar almost daily. But he said it won't be a problem for him watching from below.
"You know, I'm excited to turn over command to the next generation,'' Frosch said, standing in front of his No. 1 Blue Angel F/A 18 jet. "It's been a privilege. But you want to share that experience with as many people as you can. We represent thousands of service members around the world, and this is an opportunity for someone else to have that experience."
He said retirement "is in the future, but I'll figure that out later."
Frosch took the helm of the Blue Angels in 2012. In 2013, most of the Blue Angels' season was canceled because of budget cuts.
"Boss" — all Blue Angels commanding officers are referred to as "Boss" - said it was tough for a team that values constant practice and improvement.
"You learn so much in a season, so it was difficult,'' he said. "But we channeled our efforts into the local community and outreach programs. The Blues visited schools, participated in parades, and helped various non-profit organizations during its lost season.
"We were rebuilding last year and this year,'' he said. "We've gotten back to the point where we are even better. We're always trying to improve."
Frosch, married with three children, said his children are a little bummed that Dad won't be the big man in blue anymore.
"I think they're certainly a little sad, but they're glad they're going to have their Dad home,'' he said. "I've been gone quite a bit and they'll enjoy having me around a bit more. It's bittersweet because (the weekend shows) mark the end of a great season and the last time I'll fly in the blue jet and perform for all these people. It's all about inspiring people, and I don't take that lightly."
While Frosch doesn't know what the far future holds, he is pretty sure about the near future - especially concerning the Dec. 12 Army-Navy football team.
While at the U.S. Naval Academy, Frosch was a punter for the football team.
"It's going to be bad for Army again,'' he said. "It's something I'm proud to watch year after year. We'll just ride it while it lasts."
Navy has beaten Army 13 consecutive times since 2002.
"It never gets old."