Rear Admiral James A. Symonds is a native of Sodus, N.Y. He received a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics from State University of New York at Albany in 1975. He was commissioned at Aviation Officer Candidate School, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. in September 1975 and designated a Naval Flight Officer in July 1976.
Rear Adm. Symonds served one operational tour as an A-6 Intruder Bombardier/Navigator in Attack Squadron (VA) 115, aboard USS Midway (CV 41), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan. He was selected for pilot training and earned his wings as a Naval Aviator in August 1983, then returned to the A-6 community at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. He served two operational tours with VA-196, including two deployments aboard USS Constellation (CV 64) and one on USS Independence (CV-62) (Operation Desert Shield). In October 1992, he reported to VA-165 as Executive Officer, deploying aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68) in 1993, and he assumed command of the squadron in October 1993. In 1995, he was selected to attend Navy Nuclear Power training.
Rear Adm. Symonds served as Executive Officer of USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), including a Mediterranean/Arabian Gulf deployment in 1998. He assumed command of USS Nashville (LPD 13) in November 1999 and deployed to the Mediterranean in early 2001. He was the Commanding Officer of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) from August 2003 to November 2005, and he led the ship through a change of homeport from Norfolk, Va. to San Diego, Calif.
Rear Adm. Symonds’ shore assignments include two tours as an instructor at VA-128, the A-6 Fleet Replacement Squadron; Command of Medium Attack Weapons School at NAS Whidbey Island; Air Operations Officer, US 6th Fleet; Deputy Director of Operations for Counterdrug Operations in US Southern Command, Miami, Fla.; and Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division (N45) in Washington, D.C. In July 2007, he reported as Commander, Navy Region Northwest.
Rear Adm. Symonds amassed 4,000 flight hours in the A-6 Intruder and over 1,000 carrier landings during his flying career. He wears the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit (three awards), Meritorious Service Medal (four awards), Strike Flight Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards) and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (two awards) along with various unit and campaign citations.