8/18/2007 - NAWS China Lake, CA -- Rear Adm. Mark Skinner
passed the reins of the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division
to Rear Adm. David Dunaway during a change of command ceremony
held on the front lawn of the Administration Building Sept.
“It’s been a unique opportunity to serve here,
and as I think about what I take forward, one image comes to
mind – people,” Skinner said. “The Weapons
Division and AIR-5.0 have world-class laboratories, ranges and
facilities, but it’s the people who bring the products
and services to life.”
NAVAIR Commander and former NAWCWD Commander Vice Adm. David
Venlet was the keynote speaker. Venlet pointed out that despite
the title of the ceremony, there didn’t seem to be a lot
in the way of change with this exchange of WD leadership.
“Mark and Dave have a lot in common,” Venlet said.
“Both of these gents are from Texas. Both grew up believing
that football is a religion. Both think the only thing worth
driving, on the road, is a pickup truck. And both love the outdoors.
But above all, Mark and Dave are both fine Navy officers and
Three years ago, Skinner came to WD from Patuxent River. His
next assignment takes him back to southern Maryland where he
will head the Program Executive Office for Tactical Aircraft
Venlet reminded those in attendance that a commander’s
job is more than just celebration and ceremony. Along with the
development and testing of Navy weapons and systems also comes
risk and concern for safety.
“So, when test squadrons like VX-30 and VX-31 have no
class A mishaps on your watch, it’s clear that safety
is the commander’s top priority,” Venlet said to
Dunaway, who has served two previous tours with the Weapons
Division, returns from his most recent assignment as deputy
for the Program Executive Office for Air ASW, Assault and Special
Mission Programs at Patuxent River.
Venlet referred the audience to the program for details of
Dunaway’s career and instead chose to speak about his
“What I want you to know about him is that he is a man
of high integrity, enormous energy, and is greatly respected
in the naval aviation community,” Venlet said. “Dave,
I know Weapons Division will thrive under your care and direction.”
Venlet, who participated in Dunaway’s frocking ceremony
in August, told the new WD commander that for a first flag assignment,
it’s tough to beat a tour at Weapons Division.
“I feel like I’m at home,” Dunaway said.
“I really appreciate this place - the view of the Sierras,
the rumble of jet engines on the runway, and the pintails at
Point Mugu. I’m ecstatic to be back here.”
The new WD commander announced that his priorities were family,
teamwork, stewardship, people and trust.
“I care a lot about family and I intend to foster that,”
he said. “This is an organization of people who know their
mission; my job is to break down the barriers that get in your
way. The warfighters have to know that we are behind them, and
that we will continue to listen to their needs and satisfy their
Skinner told Dunaway that even though his tour here had been
filled with a lot of change and great challenges during the
last three years, there was one thing he could always depend
“You’ll definitely be able to count on the people
of AIR-5.0 and Weapons Division,” Skinner said to his
reliever. “I once told someone that the people of Weapons
Division are like the ‘fire and forget’ missiles
they develop, test and put into service. Give ‘em a mission,
load ‘em on the wing and let ‘em go. Folks here
know how to carry the load.”
Source: USN Press Release by Renee Hatcher