By Ltjg. Christi Morrissey, USN
Cmdr. William C. Pennington, Jr. relieved Cmdr. Molly Boron as commanding officer of Patrol Squadron SIXTEEN (VP-16) on May 23 in Hangar 117 at Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Fla.
VP-16 is a Navy Maritime Patrol and Reconnaissance Aircraft (MPRA) squadron stationed in Jacksonville, Fla. The War Eagles are the first operational squadron to transition from the P-3C Orion to the P-8A Poseidon, having achieved their ‘safe for flight’ qualification in January of this year. The newest MPRA aircraft in over 50 years, the P-8A is a modified Boeing 737 designed to take over the war-fighting capabilities of the P-3C. Their primary missions include Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW), and Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR).
The grandson of Katherine Anne Wijas and the late Edwin A Wijas of Palatine, Ill., Pennington graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1996 with a Bachelor of Science in Weapons and Systems Engineering. He was awarded his Naval Aviator Wings of Gold in July 1998 and has completed flying tours at NAF Washington DC, VP-4 in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, VP-30 in Jacksonville, Fla. and VP-40 in NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.
Additional tours include assignment to Commander, U.S. SEVENTH Fleet staff onboard USS BLUE RIDGE (LCC-19) home ported in Yokosuka, Japan, a short stash at Naval Personnel Command, and as Deputy Executive Assistant to the Director, Air Warfare (OPNAV N88) on the Chief of Naval Operations Staff at the Pentagon.
Pennington assumed executive officer duties at VP-16 in May 2012 during the squadron’s ‘sundown’ P-3C deployment in Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. Upon their return, VP-16 turned in their aircraft and began training on the new airframe. Cmdr. Pennington assisted Cmdr. Boron in steering the War Eagles through a rigorous transition syllabus, overcoming unforeseen obstacles encountered in bringing a new type model online. Together, their guidance and direction resulted in the squadron receiving outstanding marks during their safe for flight inspection and official qualification earlier this year.
He commended the War Eagles’ former commanding officer.
“I want to congratulate Skipper Boron on an impressive tour leading the War Eagle team. Her unmatched commitment to her sailors and aircrew elevated her command to new heights as she successfully led them through the historic transition to the P-8A.”
Cmdr. Boron took control of the War Eagles in May 2012. During the ceremony, she imparted some words of wisdom and encouragement to her former squadron.
“President Roosevelt made famous an old African proverb ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick. You will go far.’ As VP-16 prepares to take the P-8 on deployment at the end of the year, I see them continuing to be the quiet professionals, dutifully learning their trades, honing new skills and capabilities. When those six Poseidons and 12 Combat Air Crews head west, their war fighter skills and hidden power projection will become America’s ‘big stick’ in the Pacific.”
Pennington assumes command of VP-16 in the midst of a 12-month inter-deployment readiness cycle preparing to lead the squadron on the first P-8A operational deployment to Kadena Air Base. As the new commanding officer, Pennington takes control of nearly one billion dollars of Naval aircraft and will lead over 200 sailors during the next year. He is joined by new executive officer Cmdr. Daniel Papp of Chicago, Ill.