Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA-11) held a brief aerial change-of-command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana July 2.
Cmdr. John McGee relieved Cmdr. Eric McQueen as the commanding officer of the World Famous Red Rippers. McQueen reflected on his time as the commanding officer.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this organization and work alongside the finest professionals and warfighters Naval Aviation has to offer,” said McQueen, who has flown 3,135 flight hours and completed 811 traps during his career.
His wife, Kimberly McQueen, who attended the ceremony, thanked the families of the Red Rippers for their support during their tour at VFA-11. “We would also like to acknowledge and thank the strong family support structure the Rippers have been blessed with and have made this tour so special,” said McQueen.
Both commanders shared a similar career path up to this point. They both received their commissions through Officer Candidate School, and served together as first-tour junior officers with the VFA-2 Bounty Hunters. Additionally, both commanders served as instructors on the TOPGUN staff, and assigned to Navy Personnel Command prior to their time in the Rippers.
During McQueen’s tenure, he led the squadron through two accelerated Optimized Fleet Response Plan evolutions, a seven-month Dynamic Force Employment deployment in 2018, and a seven-month combat deployment in 2019-2020, spanning the 2nd, 5th, and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.
“I am proud of my squadron for conducting more than 14 months of embarked operations supporting Operations Inherent Resolve and Freedom Sentinel, as well as conducting contingency operations for the Combined Defense of the Arabian Gulf,” said McQueen.
McQueen added that at the beginning of his command tour, his squadron participated in Exercise Trident Juncture as part of the first Carrier Strike Group to conduct operations in the Arctic Circle in more than 30 years.
McGee thanked McQueen for his leadership, guidance, and mentorship over the past 15 months.
“The incredible people that are part of this command have gone above and beyond in their service to their country, and Eric’s dedication and leadership was the driving force behind the success we’ve had,” said McGee. “I’m extremely excited for the future as we begin a work-up cycle in preparation to once again deploy in defense of our Nation’s interests around the globe.”