Change of Command
Vandiver to turn over command to Grace
Training Air Wing FIVE will observe a change at the helm Thursday, Sept. 22 at 10 a.m. in the Naval Air Station Whiting Field auditorium as Col. James Grace will receive command of the unit from Capt. James Vandiver.
Grace will become the second Marine commanding officer of the training wing under the policy to alternate Marine and Navy commodores for TRAWING-5 which began roughly three years ago.
Grace was designated as a Naval aviator in 1984 at NAS Whiting Field. As a UH-1N (Huey) pilot, he served multiple tours with various squadrons in California and Okinawa. He also served tours with Headquarters Marine Corps; deployed in support of Operations Joint Endeavor, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom; commanded HMLA-167, was appointed to a division chief position for the Joint Staff, and earned his Master of Arts in National Security Strategy at the Naval War College. While serving as the Headquarters Marine Corps Director of Safety, he was selected to become the deputy and then the commodore for TRAWING-5.
Vandiver is a 1985 graduate of the Naval Academy and earned his pilot’s wings in November 1986. Since then, he has flown helicopters with HSL-35, HSL-49 and HSL-37. He earned his Master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering through the Naval Postgraduate School and is a graduate of the Naval War College. His most recent tours of duty include assignment as the Director of Surface Warfare in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations and as the Antisubmarine Warfare Section Head as well as the Maritime Warfare Systems/Surface Strike Branch Head.
As Commander of the largest wing within the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA), Vandiver oversaw the execution of nearly 100,000 sorties and more than 208,000 flight hours, which culminated in winging over 800 Naval, Marine, Air Force, Coast Guard, and Allied aviators in support of our nation’s continued efforts in fighting the Global War on Terror. The three helicopter training squadrons under his command met pilot throughput requirements while decreasing student attrition from three and one-half to two percent, with no decrease in pilot quality. Additionally, Vandiver oversaw the early stages of the transition to the T-6B Texan II fixed wing training aircraft. Two primary training squadrons have completed the switch to the new aircraft with a final squadron to transition to the plane under Grace’s command.
Grace will assume command of the Navy’s busiest training wing, which flies approximately 44 percent of the Chief of Naval Air Training flight hours and nearly 11 percent of Navy and Marine Corps flight hours worldwide. Capt. James Fisher will become the new deputy commodore.
The guest speaker for the event will be the Honorable Juan Garcia, III, the assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs.