Rear Adm. (ret) James A. Symonds is a native of Sodus, NY. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University at Albany (NY) in 1975. He was commissioned at Aviation Officer Candidate School, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. in September 1975, designated a Naval Flight Officer in July 1976 and as a Naval Aviator in 1983.
Symonds flew the A-6 “Intruder” with the Attack Squadron (VA) 115 Eagles (forward deployed in Yokosuka, Japan), the VA-196 Milestones and the VA-128 Golden Intruders. Outside the cockpit he served as Air Operations Officer, US 6th Fleet, in Gaeta, Italy and as Deputy Director of Operations for Counterdrug Operations in US Southern Command, Miami, Fla. His first flag officer assignment was as Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division (CNO N45).
Symonds commanded Medium Attack Weapons School at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., the VA-165 Boomers, USS Nashville (LPD 13) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). His last assignment on active duty was as Commander, Navy Region Northwest, based in Silverdale, Wash., from July 2007 to June 2010, where he was responsible for operations, Sailor and family services, and facilities on four major Navy installations around the Puget Sound.
Symonds amassed 4,000 flight hours in the A-6 and more than 1,000 carrier landings during his flying career. He earned the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (four), Meritorious Service Medal (four), Strike Flight Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two) and various unit and campaign citations.