Thursday, April 11, 2024

New Air Boss Talks Naval Aviation With Rotary Club of Coronado

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

During the Rotary Club of Coronado monthly speaker series, Vice Adm. Dan Cheever, Commander, Naval Air Forces, addressed a full house at the Coronado Yacht Club March 27. Former Naval Air Pac Commander (1996-1998) Vice Adm. Brent Bennitt introduced Cheever, saying, “Vice Admiral Cheever’s headquarters is here in Coronado, at Naval Air Station North Island, and from there he leads our vast naval aviation community, shouldering global responsibility and accountability for manning, equipping and training all elements of naval aviation and for defining and prioritizing naval aviation requirements well into the future.” Bennitt also shared sea stories of times they flew together while stationed in Japan when Cheever was in his first squadron while Bennitt was the Carrier Strike Group Commander. Sharing a humorous quip on call signs, Bennitt said, “His callsign is ‘Undra,’ and if you haven’t figured it out already, trust me, he is no underachiever.”

Vice Adm. Cheever with Rotary President Bob Rutherford.

Cheever took over as the Navy’s 10th Air Boss in late January and provided an update on naval aviation’s busy role in current events as well as a brief introduction of himself and his experience in Coronado. Cheever started by thanking Vice Adm. Bennitt for the introduction and acknowledged Vice Adm. Jim Zortman, the Navy’s 3rd Air Boss, who Cheever says still provides sage advice and counsel. He also acknowledged former aviators, Bob Rutherford (Rotary President) and Tom Mitchell who joined him at the head table.

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). Stennis Carrier Strike Group is on a regularly scheduled deployment in support of Maritime Security Operations (MSO). U.S. Navy photo File# 070302-N-0000H-001

Cheever started by talking about his background. “I’m a kid from the Chicago west suburbs and my Mom was the mayor; first female mayor in ‘Chicagoland’ ever, she was a council woman, president of the League of Women Voters for over 40 years, she taught me everything, leadership and the importance of preparation… and my Dad worked at the Argonne National Laboratory and taught me hard work and the importance of education.”

Cheever went on to talk about his family, his wife Julee and triplet children. He shared a story of when they were trying to find a place for the triplets to be baptized they brought them down to North Island and had the service during a Sunday mass. At the end of the mass, Vice Adm. James Stockdale approached Cheever and congratulated him and said what a nice family they had, it was a special moment for Cheever, meeting this naval aviation legend. Three months ago Cheever’s grandchild was baptized in the same chapel on North Island.

Multiple times throughout his remarks, Cheever mentioned what a special place Coronado is, the wonderful community and place for children to grow up. His triplets graduated Coronado High School in 2017 and one son served in the Navy and is now using his GI Bill for college, his other son is a First Lieutenant in the Marine Corps stationed in Yuma and his daughter is working in Colorado after finishing her Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of Alabama.

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

Cheever moved on to discuss current operations, sharing information about the Eisenhower Strike Group that has been on station supporting operations in the Middle East since November 4th.

Recent Facebook update from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Cheever then talked about west coast carriers saying, “We have [USS] Ronald Reagan who recently completed a three month patrol in Japan, and [USS] Theodore Roosevelt supporting an integrated deterrence and presence mission in the 7th Fleet. [USS] George Washington will be coming through here on their way to replace Ronald Reagan in Japan… and I recently welcomed [USS Carl] Vinson home from deployment. There are a lot of exciting things going on in the Navy.”

Cheever provided an update on the CMV-22 return to flight operations after being grounded for over 90 days. He went into detail about the measured approach they are taking to safely return to flight, emphasizing that safety is the number one priority.

Air Boss has an all-hands call for his staff March 28. Photo courtesy of CNAF Media Dept.

Cheever closed by expressing his thoughts on how amazing the young Sailors in the Navy are today. He talked about their professionalism, their dedication and their commitment to the Nation and the Navy.

Cheever opened it up for questions at the conclusion of his remarks. There was a question about how drones are affecting the security of our aircraft carriers. Cheever answered, “when in confined areas it is more concerning, but in general when in the open ocean, current day it is not a big deal, but we are watching it carefully because as the technology and ranges grow, it will be a greater threat to the Navy. We are working with scientists and R&D to have answers to pace that threat.”

Other questions revolved around recruiting and retention challenges in Naval Aviation, about the recent CMV-22 grounding, and the schedule of future carrier deliveries. One member of Rotary asked how Rotary can support our local Navy and Cheever responded by saying that educating the public on what we do to help with recruitment would be extremely helpful.


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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