VAQ-140 Executes Airborne Change of Command
Story by SN Caitlin Coyle on 06/16/2019
The “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140 executed an airborne change of command several hundred feet above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), May 30.
Cmdr. John “POCO” Nelson relieved Cmdr. Warren “Rabbit” Van Allen as commanding officer of VAQ-140 during the time-honored naval tradition that included two fly-bys by E/A-18G Growlers.
Van Allen joined the squadron in September 2016 as the executive officer, and took command in December 2017. During his year and a half as commanding officer, Van Allen led the “Patriots” through their entire work-up schedule, to include the Electronic Warfare Readiness Program (EWARP), Air Wing Fallon (AWF) and Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX), in the lead up to their 2019 deployment with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group.
“It is an honor to serve with the Patriots,'” said Van Allen. “I am proud to have led such a hard-working team of professionals so dedicated to mission accomplishment. I know they will continue to operate at the highest level long after I have left.”
After being waved on in flight during the ceremony, Van Allen’s successor, Nelson, landed on the flight deck of Lincoln, joined by the command officer of Carrier Air Wing (CVW)) 7, Capt. William Reed, as the new commanding officer of the “Patriots.”
Nelson, a native of Bellevue, Wash., earned his Wings of Gold in June of 2004 and has logged more than 2,600 hours in various aircraft with more than 350 arrested landings.
“I want to continue the tradition that Cmdr. Van Allen has established for this squadron,” said Nelson. “And that’s mission accomplishment while taking care of our people. It’s something we think about every day, and it doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of hard work to make that happen.”
The “Patriots” of VAQ-140 operate and maintain 5 E/A-18G Growlers with 220 personnel. They are assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, currently embarked aboard Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and the Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12), Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing 7 (CVW 7).