Thursday, April 18, 2024

Meet Your Local Navy Leaders: Vice Adm. Dan Cheever

Vice Admiral Dan Cheever, Commander, Naval Air Forces. U.S. Navy Official File Photo

Coronado is the ‘Birthplace of Naval Aviation’ and also home to the Commander of Naval Air Forces, Vice Adm. Dan Cheever who took command on Jan. 31 as the Navy’s 10th Air Boss.

The Cheever Family on Coronado Beach. (Photo provided by Julee Cheever)

Vice Adm. Cheever’s career has taken him around the world, from duty stations in Japan and Washington D.C. to deployments around the globe, but he is happy to call Coronado home once again. Coronado is special to him as his triplet children graduated from Coronado High School while he was the Chief of Staff at Naval Air Forces in 2017. He shared that he is happy to be back in this wonderful community saying, “My favorite thing about Coronado is the people, it is an idyllic and beautiful location but it is the people who are so friendly and welcoming, especially to the military, and it is such a good tight knit community feel, you feel safe, you know you have good neighbors.” The Cheever triplets are all doing well, Alex just returned from his first Marine Corps Deployment, he is a First Lt. in the Military Police currently stationed in Yuma. Zack served in the Navy for four years and is using his GI Bill for college here in San Diego. Maddie is working in Colorado Springs after earning her Masters of Public Health from the University of Alabama.

Cheever, while the Chief of Staff, spoke at the Hotel Del Coronado on a panel about TOPGUN prior to their airing of the original Top Gun film in May 2016.

Cheever grew up in Downer’s Grove, Illinois, where, he proudly shared, his mother Betty Cheever served as the first female mayor and longest serving mayor of the town. He went on to study business at Western Illinois University and worked for a Fortune 500 company in Pittsburgh, Penn. and later started his own company in California before joining the Navy. He felt drawn to Naval Aviation since he was 10 years old after seeing the Blue Angels fly a section of F-4s down the river at his county fair. He had talked with recruiters a couple of times over the years but it wasn’t until 1987 that he took the aviation test and signed up to go to Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola starting in 1988.

Cheever’s first fleet squadron was VFA-195 stationed in Atsugi, Japan, and while there he met his wife Julee who was performing with an American Production Company in Japan. The connection was immediate and they were engaged within a month and have been happily married for 31 years.

An incredibly impressive career, Cheever served in numerous F/A 18 squadrons including an instructor tour at TOPGUN before commanding the Argonauts of VFA-147 in Lemoore, California. He also held command of TOPGUN, Carrier Air Wing Eight, Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center, and Carrier Strike Group 4.

ARABIAN SEA (Mar. 02, 2007) Cmdr. Daniel Cheever, commanding officer of the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 147, flies an F/A-18C Hornet returning to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). U.S. Navy photo File# 070302-N-0000H-001

When asked his favorite flying memory he shared a story of a flight he did during Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan in which he supported the Australian Special Operation Forces on the ground being mortared by enemy fire. “The weather was not great and I penetrated the clouds down into a valley surrounded by mountains and flew a supersonic run to clear the enemy allowing our forces to conduct their mission. Later when we pulled into Perth, Australia on our way home from deployment I reconnected with the Special Operators and we had a great evening as allies who shared a mission and forged a connection. That is what it is all about, the connections.”

NAVAL STATION ROTA, Spain (Feb. 26, 2024) Vice Adm. Dan Cheever, Commander, Naval Air Forces, middle right, speaks with Sailors assigned to Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 79, at Naval Station Rota, Spain, Feb. 26, 2024. This visit commenced a week-long tour engaging with naval bases in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and key international leaders to emphasize the critical role of Naval Aviation in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Drace Wilson)

As the Navy’s Air Boss, Cheever is responsible for the mission to “Man, Train and Equip deployable, combat-ready Naval Aviation forces that win in combat.” When asked what his goals and priorities are Cheever said, “Treatment of our Sailors is one of my highest priorities…  and ingraining a safety culture in the force and reducing our mishaps is important to me.” Cheever went on to say, “The high priority is to improve our Live Virtual Constructive (LVC) range so it is seamless, so that we can train to high end warfare with missions using live aircraft that are networked to our simulators and constructive environments and threats that are computer generated. We are working through security challenges and network and data challenges to improve LVC.”

Rear Adm. Daniel Cheever, Special Assistant to Commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet, delivers remarks as the keynote speaker during the Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards at the San Diego Convention Center, Dec. 19, 2023. The Secretary of Defense Maintenance Awards recognizes the most significant weapon systems and equipment maintenance achievements within the Department of Defense. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Aron Montano)

Cheever closed our interview by saying, “Coronado and San Diego are both a gem for the Navy and especially Naval Aviation, with our three carriers and our squadrons, we are so grateful for the strong relationship with the community.”

Cheever will be addressing the Coronado Rotary Club on March 27 to get to know more of the local community.


Jeannie Groeneveld
Jeannie Groeneveld
Jeannie is a retired Naval Aviator and Public Affairs Officer whose post-Navy career includes freelance writing, PR Consulting and a two year stint as the San Diego Padres Military Affairs Advisor. Having been stationed in various parts of the country including Washington D.C., Florida and Hawaii, Jeannie appreciates how amazing the Coronado community is and loves the experience her children have had growing up here. Jeannie earned her BS in Marine Biology from Auburn University, her MS in Global Leadership from the University of San Diego and her MA in Communication and Media Relations at San Diego State University. A life-long learner and avid traveler Jeannie enjoys writing travel pieces, Navy stories and anything else that will broaden her perspective. When she is not working you will find her watching her boys play sports, walking Odin at dog beach, hiking, playing beach volleyball or spending time with the family.Have news to share? Send tips, story ideas or letters to the editor to: [email protected]

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