Vice Admiral James Winnefeld graduated in 1978 with high honor in Aerospace Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and received his commission from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program. After designation as a naval aviator, he served initial tours with Fighter Squadron (VF) 24, the Navy Fighter Weapons School (Topgun), and VF-1.
His subsequent sea tours include service as Commanding Officer of VF-211, Executive Officer of USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), and Commanding Officer of USS Cleveland (LPD 7). As Commanding Officer of USS Enterprise (CVN 65), he led “Big E” through her 18th deployment, which included combat operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom immediately after the terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001. As Commander, Carrier Strike Group 2/Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, he led Task Forces 50, 152, and 58 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime interception operations in the Arabian Gulf.
His shore tours include service as an action officer in the Joint Staff Operations Directorate, as Senior Aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and as Executive Assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. As a flag officer he has served ashore as director, Warfare Programs and Transformational Concepts, United States Fleet Forces Command and as Director of Joint Innovation and Experimentation at United States Joint Forces Command.
Vice Adm. Winnefeld graduated with highest distinction from the U.S. Naval War College off-campus program. He is a recipient of the Admiral William J. Crowe Award as Joint Staff Action Officer of the Year and the Vice Admiral William W. Behrens, Jr. award as the honor graduate of his Navy nuclear power school class. His awards include the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal, and five Battle Efficiency awards.