Rear Adm. Ponds, a native of Alabama, earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Alabama in 1982 and received his commission from Officer Candidate School in June 1983.
Ponds commanded Amphibious Squadron Eight from November 2007 to May 2009 as commander of Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group operating in four numbered fleet areas of operation in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, counter piracy operations, and operation Sea Angel II-Bangladesh humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR). He also served as mission commander for operation Continuing Promise 2008 and Haiti HA/DR operation 2008.
Ponds commanded USS Fife (DD 991) from October 2001 to February 2003. Additional sea billets include: damage control assistant and assistant first lieutenant in USS Mauna Kea (AE 22); boilers material officer in USS Midway (CV 41); engineering officer in USS Berkeley (DDG 15); flag secretary for Commander Amphibious Group One (CTF 76); and executive officer, USS Paul F. Foster (DD 964).
His shore assignments include inspector for Pacific Fleet’s Propulsion Examination Board; inspector in the Office of the Navy Inspector General; Assessment Division/Capability Analysis Group team lead for Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (N81/N00X), Resources, Requirements and Assessment; senior naval advisor in the Bureau of Political Military Affairs, Department of State during 2005 Pakistan earthquake relief operations, 2006 Lebanon non-combatant evacuation operation, and Hurricane Katrina disaster relief; senior fellow on the 2010 Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group; and commander for Navy Region Hawaii, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific.
His personal decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three), Meritorious Service Medal (five), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various service and campaign awards.
Ponds holds a Master of Science degree in Information Systems Technology from George Washington University, a Master of Science degree in Military Studies from the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a Master of Science degree in National Security Strategy from the National War College, National Defense University.
Ponds assumed his current duties as Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Three on July 25, 2013.