Rear Adm. Stearney assumed command of Carrier Strike Group FOUR (CSG 4) in September 2013. He is responsible for the planning and execution of all integrated/advanced live, synthetic, and academic events to train, mentor, and assess carrier and amphibious strike groups, warfare commanders, staffs and independent deployers for operational certification by Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command.
A native of Chicago, Stearney graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics, was commissioned in October 1982, and, following training in Pensacola, Florida, and Meridian, Mississippi, was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1984. Stearney is a graduate of the Navy Fighter Weapons School and holds a Master of Science degree in National Resource Strategy from the National Defense University.
His career as a Naval Aviator includes sea assignments in Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87 Golden Warriors embarked in USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), in VFA-136 “Knighthawks” embarked in USS George Washington (CVN 73), and as strike warfare officer in Commander, Carrier Group Four (CCG 4). Stearney commanded the VFA-131 Wildcats embarked in USS George Washington (CVN 73) and later commanded Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7) embarked in USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). He served in Kabul, Afghanistan from September 2009 to October 2010 as chief of staff of Joint Task Force 435 (JTF 435) and, later, Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435 (CJIATF 435).
Ashore, Stearney has served as flight instructor at Training Squadron Seven (VT 7), tactics instructor and readiness officer at Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN), aide de camp to the Chief of Naval Operations, Deputy Director, J6 U.S. Joint Forces Command, executive assistant to the Deputy Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command, and the Chief of Staff, Strike Force Training Atlantic. As a Flag Officer, he has served as Commander, U.S. Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) Joint Enabling Capabilities Command (JECC), responsible for the readiness, training and deployment of alert postured joint capabilities to rapidly establish Joint Task Force headquarters.
Stearney has flown over 4,500 hours and accumulated over 1,000 carrier-arrested landings flying the FA-18 A, B,C,D,E and F strike fighter aircraft. He has been awarded the Defense Superior Service Medal (two awards), the Legion of Merit (two awards), the Meritorious Service Medal (three awards), the Air Medal (three awards), the Navy and Marine Corps Association Peer Leadership Award, as well as other commendations and awards.