ABOARD USS CARL VINSON, At Sea (NNS) -- Soaring overhead USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), two F/A-18 Hornets from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, the "Argonauts," ceremoniously darted above the aircraft carrier's flight deck, Feb. 23.
This fly-by signified the passing of the torch from Cmdr. Brick Imerman to Cmdr. Neil Jennings as the Argonaut's commanding officer and closed the final chapter of Imerman's career as a naval aviator.
After the two jets landed, Jennings, who reported to the squadron two years ago as executive officer, assumed command of the Argonauts from Imerman at a ceremony on the ship's flight deck and presided over by Capt. Donald Quinn, commander Carrier Air Wing Nine.
For Imerman, who plans to pursue a career in education after his retirement, no one is more qualified to relieve him as top Argonaut than Jennings.
"He (Jennings) has complemented me more than any of you will ever know. My personal weaknesses are his strengths, and his counsel has always helped make this squadron stronger," said Imerman to his troops. "I have every confidence in the world that he will lead you well."
Jennings, a carrier aviator with almost 20 years of experience, plans to lead the Argonauts, who completed 503 successful combat missions during Operation Enduring Freedom, using many of the customs and ideals of his predecessor.
"The Argonauts are a great squadron," said Jennings. "I'm honored to take over for Commander Imerman, and I hope to follow his traditions."
Jennings joined the Navy and entered Aviation Officer Candidate School at Naval Air Station Pensacola, in April 1985. After completing advanced jet training, he earned his naval aviator wings in April 1987.
Upon completion of F-14 Tomcat training, he was assigned to his first fleet squadron, the "Wolf Pack" of Fighter Squadron (VF) 1, with whom he made two Western Pacific (WESTPAC) deployments and participated in Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and Southern Watch. He also attended the Naval Fighter Weapons School (TOP GUN).
Jennings was assigned to the Pacific Fleet Adversary Squadron, VF-126 "Bandits" and flew the A-4 Super Fox and F-16N Viper.
Jennings was reassigned to the fleet in May 1994 with orders to the "Black Lions" of VF-213. As a Black Lion, he made his third WESTPAC deployment, again participating in Operation Southern Watch.
After completing a year of training in the F/A-18 Hornets, Jennings transferred in 1997 to the VFA-97 "Warhawks," based in Lemoore, Calif.
Prior to receiving orders to the VFA-147 Argonauts, he served as an instructor with the VFA-125 "Rough Raiders". As an Argonaut, Jennings has deployed twice to the Indian Ocean and has flown numerous combat missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Argonauts are currently on a WESTPAC deployment with the Carl Vinson Battle Group to the Western Pacific.
For related news, visit the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cvn70.