At a morning ceremony on Aug. 7, the Flying Eagles of VFA-122 gathered to celebrate the command of Capt. Markus Gudmundsson and to welcome their new commanding officer, Cmdr. Ernest Spence.
During his tour as the skipper of one of the largest and most critical commands in Naval Aviation, Gudmundsson led a production effort unseen by any before him. Through a strict philosophy of leading from the front, he developed and maintained a deeply engaged rapport with the 1200 Sailors, Marines and civilians of VFA-122. Capitalizing on this relationship, he brilliantly led the command through significant challenges and enabled the success of its primary mission – to train the future aviators and maintainers of the strike fighter Community.
Gudmundsson’s accomplishments included expertly balancing flight requirements, aircraft availability, logistical support and manpower as he worked to meet directed production requirements. His command executed 39 training detachments, including 17 carrier qualification embarkations, leading to the completion of 267 initial and refresher pilot and 92 weapon system officer qualifications in the F/A-18A-F.
His strategic vision and stewardship of assets through the transition of four fleet squadrons, the sundown of legacy Hornet training, and the transfer/acceptance of 74 aircraft ensured maximum student production and aircraft availability for VFA-122 and the entire flight line.
Furthermore, his commitment to maintenance excellence culminated in the 2014 Aviation Maintenance Inspection results of 38 “On Track” programs with zero “Off Track," an unprecedented achievement for a fleet replacement squadron.
Few commanding officers have had such an incredible scope of responsibility, dealing with issues not only specific to his command but of interest to the Naval aviation enterprise at large. Gudmundsson’s extraordinary leadership has enabled the VFA-122 Flying Eagles to provide the finest aviators and maintainers to the fleet — ready to impact international diplomacy and worldwide operations.
When asked about the demanding nature of leading the largest F/A-18 squadron in the US Navy, Gudmundsson replied, “This has been a challenging, but very rewarding, tour. If this job were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun at all.”
Gudmundsson is headed to Strike Fighter Wing Pacific as the Deputy Commodore.
Spence, previously stationed at the National Defense University, was the former commanding officer of the Argonauts of VFA-147. He is married to his home-town sweetheart, the former Nancy Henderson. Together, they have three children: Hayden, Ian and Ellie. He is originally from Roswell, N.M. and is a 1994 graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder.
At the ceremony, Spence told VFA-122, “I am honored to be entrusted with command of this squadron, and I am looking forward to meeting the many challenges we will face together.”