DVIDS – News – VX-9 performs air change of command

CHINA LAKE, Calif.- Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9) held a change of command ceremony above Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, March 10.

During the change of command event, Captain Todd Zentner assumed all duties and responsibilities as commanding officer of VX-9 from Captain William McCombs.
McCombs’ command began in 2021 and since then he has led over 350 officers and enlisted personnel through a variety of events.

“I had the privilege of joining this squadron exactly 4 years ago. During this tour I witnessed amazing things from Vampires. Your demonstrated expertise, hard work and sweat are essential to ensuring our fighters can take off from the pointy end of the boat on dark nights and fly into battle with confidence,” he said.

During Captain McCombs’ tour as commander, he focused not only on maintaining Navy standards, but also updating and refurbishing obsolete elements of the VX-9.

The Vice Adm. Kenneth Whitesell, Commander, Naval Air Forces/Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, had this to say about Captain McCombs’ service, “As a low-key, humble professional for the past 26 years, you have lived the l “war ethic that many seek, but few realize. No words can describe all you have done for our country.”

Captain William McCombs is from Concord, California. Prior to assuming command of the VX-9, he served as chief director of operational testing for the VX-9 from 2018 to 2021. He graduated in 1996 from the US Naval Academy where he received a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering . He was commissioned as a Naval Flight Officer in 1998. He holds a Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and is a graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School, Class 126.
McCombs’ operational tours at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Washington include Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, VAQ-135, and VAQ-132, where he served as Director and Commanding Officer. He participated in operations ALLIED FORCE, NORTHERN WATCH, SOUTHERN WATCH, ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM.

McCombs had this to say about his time with the VX-9: “It has been an honor and a privilege for me to stand before you as commander and fly your aircraft. Good luck to each of you. I wish you the best.”

“Captain Zentner, your leadership will ensure that VX-9 continues to evolve to support the Air Wing of the future in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. Vampires are lucky to have you. I know you are ready for the challenge,” McCombs added of his relief.

Captain Todd Zentner is from Mill Creek, Washington. He graduated in 1998 from the US Naval Academy where he earned a Bachelor of Science in Ocean Engineering. He was commissioned as a Naval Aviator in 2000. He holds a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.

Captain Zentner’s operational tours at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, Washington include Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, VAQ-135 and VAQ-133, where he served as Director and Commanding Officer. He participated in Operations ENDURING FREEDOM and IRAQI FREEDOM while deployed on USS JOHN F. KENNEDY (CV 67), USS GEORGE WASHINGTON (CVN 73), USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68). During an additional sea tour, he served with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9 Landing Signals Officer (LSO) on USS JOHN C STENNIS.

Captain Zentner also completed shore visits as an instructor pilot and LSO at VAQ-129, VAQ Detailer at PERS-43, and EA-18G GROWLER Requirements Officer attached to Director Air Warfare, OPNAV N-98.

“Vampires, I am proud to serve with you. The activity of VX-9 is very clear. We deliver victory. Whether the fight is east or west, we make sure the leading edge is equipped to win. It’s not an easy job. In fact, it’s extremely hard, and hard is allowed. – Capt. Todd Zentner, Commander (VX-9)

Date taken: 03.10.2022
Date posted: 03.11.2022 17:36
Story ID: 416337

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