Cmdr. Christopher R. Swanson
Cmdr. Christopher "Swanny" Swanson assumed the duties as executive officer for Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 120 in February of 2022. He is a native of Alden, New York, and received his commission from the NROTC program at the University of Rochester in May 2000 after completing a B.S. and M.S. in Mechanical Engineering.
Following commissioning, he attended flight school and earned his "Wings of Gold" in Meridian, Mississippi in April 2002, carrier qualifying in the T-2C “Buckeye” onboard the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN-75). He then reported to VAW-120 where he learned to fly the E-2C Hawkeye.
Following completion of his initial training in the E-2C, he was forward deployed to Atsugi, Japan to join the "Liberty Bells" of VAW-115 and Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5). From June 2003 to October 2006 he served in the Administration, Operations, Safety, and Maintenance departments, earning the COMNAVAIRFOR Battle ‘E’ in 2004. He deployed numerous times with the USS KITTY HAWK (CVA-63), supporting multiple exercises in the Western Pacific including "Talisman Saber," "Foal Eagle," "Keen Sword," and "Valiant Shield," earning his Team Lead and Wing Landing Signal Officer (LSO) qualification.
Cmdr. Swanson was handpicked to join the "Greyhawks" of VAW-120 in October of 2006 and earned his Flight Instructor, Training LSO, and Tactical Demonstration pilot qualifications. Over the course of his 30 months, he instructed 12 Field Carrier Landing Practice and Carrier Qualification detachments and culminating in his serving as the Carrier Qualification Phase Head LSO.
In May of 2009, he reported to "Team Factory" at Carrier Air Wing EIGHT (CVW-8) in NAS Oceana, VA serving as Air Wing LSO. During the intense work up phase leading to deployment, he successfully integrated the Navy’s first EA-18G transition squadron, VAQ-141, to CVW-8 without mishap. While there he flew with the "Black Lions" of VFA-213 and the Bear Aces of VAW-124. Cmdr. Swanson deployed onboard USS GEORGE H. W. BUSH (CVN-77) for her maiden deployment participating in actions supporting Operations IRAQI FREEDOM and ENDURING FREEDOM.
After being selected for Department Head he reported back to the "Greyhawks" of VAW-120 in October 2011 as the Student Control and Operations Officer, helping the squadron earn the 2012 “Theodore G. Ellyson Award” for production excellence. Cmdr. Swanson was fully qualified in all series of the E-2 Hawkeye and helped develop Field Carrier Landing Practice procedures for the NASA Goddard/Wallops Flight Facility.
Following his tour at VAW-120, Cmdr. Swanson volunteered to return to CVW-8 and join the ‘Bear Aces’ of VAW-124 serving as the Safety and Maintenance Officer, deploying from February to November of 2014 in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and the opening actions of Operation INHERENT RESOLVE. Following his promotion to the rank of Commander in December 2016, he joined the Air Department of the USS HARRY S TRUMAN (CVN75) deploying to the Arabian Gulf and Eastern Mediterranean Sea yet again, this time as the ‘MINI BOSS’, directing Carrier Air Wing SEVEN’s (CVW-7) combat operations supporting Operation INHERENT RESOLVE.
In April of 2018 Cmdr. Swanson took over as the Officer in Charge of the USN LSO School, serving as the US Navy’s senior LSO until October 2021. While there he trained over 400 LSOs, Air Bosses and Mini Bosses. He also developed some of the most significant LSO NATOPS Currency changes in decades as well as the integration of PLM to the Super Hornet fleet wide to include FRS Carrier Qualifications.
His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal (2), Air Medal (2), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (4), Navy Achievement Medal, along with various service and unit awards. He has logged more than 4,500 flight hours in 8 different aircraft and 375 arrested landings.