Author Archives: John Larson

Patrol Squadron FOUR Change of Command 2016

Patrol Squadron FOUR Change of Command
LTJG Matthew Johnston
Public Affairs Officer, VP-4

160421-N-AL293-067 160421-N-AL293-086Commander Jonathan E. Spore was relieved by Commander Christopher E. Smith as Commanding Officer of Patrol Squadron FOUR (VP-4) on April 21, 2016. The ceremony was held in Hanger 426 on NAS Sigonella, Sicily.

Commander Spore reported to VP-4 in June 2014 as the Executive Officer and relieved Commander Eric M. Hanks as Commanding Officer in June 2015. A native of Chantilly, Virginia, he graduated the United States Naval Academy in 1997. His previous flying tours include assignments in VP-5 as a Junior Officer, VP-30, and a Department Head in VP-16. Commander Spore’s other assignments include a tour on the USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT, Flag Lieutenant for Commander, Naval Air Force, Atlantic, and most recently in the Pentagon, serving on both the Navy and the Joint Staff. Under his guidance, Patrol Squadron FOUR certainly lived up to their reputation as “Hawaii’s Best.” CDR Spore and the Skinny Dragons set the standard for maritime excellence, completing nine exercises and over 5,000 flight hours during his time as Commanding Officer. In March 2016, he led the way on VP-4’s last P-3C ‘Aloha Deployment’, and the Skinny Dragons are already achieving success executing their mission in the 4th and 6th Fleet Areas of Responsibility.

CDR Spore’s wife Jennifer and their three children, Mitchell, Landon, and Marion currently live in Hawaii. The family’s remaining time in Hawaii is short however, as Commander Spore has received orders to report to Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee. The Skinny Dragons bid a fond Aloha and say Mahalo to Commander Spore for his leadership and guidance.

“As a former Skinny Dragon Skipper, there was no way that I would miss this change of command,” stated Captain Steve Newlund, Commodore of Command Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing TWO (CPRW2). “VP-4 is a premier outfit and has long been ‘Hawaii’s Best.’ Skipper Spore is an outstanding officer and has taken VP-4 to new heights.”

Commander Smith was raised in Brunswick, Maine and graduated from the Naval Academy in 1998 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Ocean Engineering. He went on to earn his wings as a Naval Flight Officer (NFO) and after completing training at VP-30 in Jacksonville, Florida, Commander Smith reported to the Golden Swordsmen of VP-47. Following his first tour at VP-47, Commander Smith went on to have successful tours at VP-30, the USS JOHN C. STENNIS, Navy Personnel Command, and another tour at VP-47 as a Department Head. As the next Skipper of VP-4, Commander Smith will have the opportunity to lead the Skinny Dragons through the transition to their next Fleet aircraft, the P-8A Poseidon.

CDR Smith and his wife Sarah now call Whidbey Island home with their four children Wyatt, Owen, Evan, and Elizabeth. Relieving Commander Smith as Executive Officer is Commander Bryan P. Hager. He is originally from Bangs, Texas and went on to graduate Magna Cum Laude from Texas A&M University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial Distribution. Commander Hager completed flight training in Corpus Christi, Texas and earned his Wings of Gold as a Naval Aviator in December 2001. His Fleet assignments include tours at VP-16 as a Junior Officer and Department Head, VP-30 as an instructor, a tour on the USS DWIGHT D. EISENHHOWER (CVN-69), and lastly a tour with Naval Operations (OPNAV) working to facilitate future transitions to the P-8A. His wife Kristen and their three sons, Kenan, Sladen , and Stetson currently reside in Anacortes, Washington.

VP-4 Departing Hawaii for the last time

Vp-4 departing on deploymentGreetings everyone,

I just got back from Hawaii this weekend.

I wanted to report to you that VP-4 has left Hawaii for their deployment. The first picture is the Skipper departing on Friday March 18th. They created a commemorative challenge coin for this significant event. This picture was taken from their Facebook.

The other picture is of the same plane the day before. It is the latest update P-3C. It is the AIP version. Also notice the nose art. It is a dragon’s claw opening up the aircraft.

I had a chance to talk to the XO and wanted to pass on some of what he said. The squadron will be flying out of multiple sites. They will be in Africa, Central America and Europe in one place and possible another sight off of the continent. This year marks the 50th anniversary that the P-3 has been in the squadron.

The P-8 is operating well, no major issues. When the squadron is finished with their deployment they will end up at NAS Whidbey Is. WA, where they will transition to the P-8A. That will begin on Halloween. I guess they will have to put on their dragon costumes. The only rate for the aircrew will be AW’s. The F/E’s, AT’s and in flight Ord will be gone. They will offer to transition to AW, go to the remaining P-3 squadrons, or stay in Hawaii doing other things.

It was good to get back to Oahu. I had to take a trip out to Barbers Pt and reminisce about the days when I was in VP-4. When all the Kaneohe have transitioned to the P-8, there will be no permanent squadrons based there. There will be dets to Hawaii for homeland security duties.

Take care

John Larson

VP-4 Veterans Assn PAO

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