NAWCWD Leadership Changes Hands at China Lake

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. 18.

“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 excellent leaders.”

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 Programs.

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 Skinner.

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 character.

“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 requirements.”

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 on.

“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

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