VX-31’s Gephart promoted in surprise home ceremony

VX-31’s Gephart promoted in surprise home ceremonyBy AARON CRUTCHFIELD

NAWCWD Public Affairs

Restrictions due to COVID-19 weren’t enough to stop the promotion of Cmdr. Andrew Gephart, of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-31, to captain during a surprise ceremony held May 4 at his home.

“Unbeknownst to me, [Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division] requested and received approval to frock me four months prior to my scheduled promotion date,” said Gephart, who came home to find Rear Adm. Scott Dillon, NAWCWD commander; Capt. Andrew McFarland, Naval Test Wing Pacific commodore; Capt. Paul Dale, Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake commanding officer; the VX-31 front office and his wife and daughters standing on the patio for the surprise ceremony.

“I can only imagine them all grinning ear to ear as they were wearing face masks,” he said.

Cmdr. Michael Duez, VX-31 executive officer, read the frocking order, Dillon administered the oath of office and Gephart’s wife and daughters pinned on his new captain’s insignia.

“It was by far the most memorable promotion I have had and I recognize the effort it took to make it happen,” Gephart said.

The early frocking ceremony was requested because of VX-31’s accomplishments over the past year in the face of significant challenges.

The squadron’s facilities were severely damaged in 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes in July 2019, and in addition to overcoming that obstacle, VX-31 won a Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award for 2019.

“I want to add my congratulations to Capt. Gephart on his promotion,” Dillon said. “It’s important that we continue to recognize achievements and celebrate milestones like this even as our daily routine is interrupted by COVID-19.

“Life goes on and our work goes on, and the need for what we provide definitely goes on. As NAWCWD showed during the earthquakes last year and is showing now, we always find a way to get it done for the warfighter.”

Pictured: Capt. Andrew Gephart’s wife and daughters pin on his captain’s insignia during a frocking ceremony May 4. — U.S. Navy photo by James Coppersmith

Story First Published: 2020-05-22