By Lt. Amy Lowe, VFA-195 Public Affairs
EASTERN PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The "Dambusters" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195 held an airborne change of command above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), Aug 7.
During the ceremony, Cmdr. Guy M. Snodgrass relieved Cmdr. David M. Pollard as Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 195's commanding officer.
Pollard, a graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School that is popularly known as "Top Gun" reported to the "Dambusters" of VFA-195 in May 2013 as executive officer and assumed the role of VFA-195's commanding officer in July 2014.
During Pollard's tour as commanding officer, the VFA-195 squadron was awarded the Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 Golden Wrench Award for the first time in four years, became the first squadron in CVW-5 to earn the Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist (EAWS) Pennant and was one of only five squadrons in all of Naval Air Forces Pacific to earn the 2015 Retention Excellence Award.
"Watching officers and Sailors develop to their maximum potential, some of whom did not initially believe they could soar so high has been rewarding throughout my time as commanding officer," said Pollard.
Upon returning to the U.S. from his present duty station in Japan, Pollard will assume the duties of Navy Tactical Aviation Budget Lead at the Pentagon, where he will play a key role in the budgeting for tactical aircraft destined for future carrier operations.
Snodgrass who has served as the squadron's executive officer since July 2014 has previously been assigned to the "Wildcats" of VFA-131 where he led combat sorties in support of forces on the ground during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Additionally, he was a Top Gun instructor and created the foundation for aerial tactics used to this day by U.S. Navy and Marine Corps aviators, served as a training officer and department head with the "Diamondbacks' of VFA-102, supporting multinational operations in the Asia-Pacific region, and the speech writer to Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the current chief of naval operations. He currently has more than 2,100 F/A-18 hours and 570 carrier landings.
"Cmdr. Snodgrass will lead VFA-195 to new heights, advancing more Sailors, crushing inspections, and achieving unprecedented squadron performance," said Pollard. "His vision is peerless, forward thinking, and warfighting-oriented. Our daily interaction grew and stretched me personally and professionally. He is a personal friend and 'once in a generation' leader."
Since its founding in 1943 as Torpedo Squadron 19, VFA-195 has flown in every major U.S.-involved conflict in recent history, seeing combat at Okinawa and Leyte Gulf in World War II, Chosin Reservoir in Korea, and Operations Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. The squadron is currently embarked aboard George Washington and will soon transition to the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to provide a formidable forward presence in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
"It's an honor to be selected and I'm humbled to be following in Cmdr. Pollard's footsteps as commanding officer," Snodgrass said. "This is undoubtedly the best job in naval aviation and I look forward to making an impact alongside the men and women of the Dambusters. We will build on the incredible success we've enjoyed over the past year while continuing to develop every Sailor as a leader for the Navy and the nation."
VFA-195 is one of the eight Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 squadrons embarked aboard George Washington and is en route to conduct a hull-swap with the Ronald Reagan.