NAS LEMOORE (NNS) -- Strike Fighter Squadron One Two Five, "Rough Raiders" welcomed a new commanding officer during a change of command ceremony, April 27.
Cmdr. Tommy "Gimp" Locke Jr., from Umatilla, Florida relieved Cmdr. John "Ping" Turner Jr. from Denver, Colorado, during the ceremony held at in the VFA-125 hangar aboard Naval Air Station Lemoore. In November 2015, Turner reported to Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific (CSFWP) as the Officer in Charge (OIC) of VFA-101, DET Lemoore and was responsible for activating the U.S. Navy's West Coast F-35C Fleet Replacement Squadron. Turner assumed command of VFA-125, January 2016 and led the squadron through its reestablishment and the arrival of the F-35C Lightning II to NAS Lemoore.
"Being involved with the F-35 program and re-establishing the Rough Raiders in Lemoore has been a privilege and a challenge," said Turner. "I will follow the F-35 and this squadron for the rest of my years knowing that they are at the pointy edge of the spear and lead from the front."
Locke is the 42th commanding officer to lead the Rough Raiders and has taken the helm at a crucial point in the squadron's history as the command lays the groundwork for the F-35C by training instructors and qualifying maintenance personnel in order bring the U.S. Navy's first F-35C squadron to initial operation capability.
"I look forward to working with the men and women of VFA-125 to bring the navy's first carrier-based 5th generation fighter to the fleet." said Locke. "Over the next year, our squadron will become experts in the skills and tasks necessary to effectively employ the F-35C in combat. We will then impart that knowledge on the first fleet squadron."
The VFA-125 "Rough Raiders" were established November 13, 1980 at NAS Lemoore, California, becoming the U.S. Navy's first F/A-18 squadron and received its first aircraft, April 1981. By March 1985, the squadron had amassed more than 30,000 mishap-free flight hours in the Hornet. In October 2010, this squadron was deactivated and was incorporated into VFA-122 "Flying Eagles." The "Rough Raiders" were reactivated at NAS Lemoore, January 12, 2017 as the U.S. Navy West Coast F-35C Lightning II FRS. The squadron received its first three aircraft, January 25, 2017.
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