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NEWS | March 22, 2023

VAW-121 Changes Command in the Mediterranean

By Carrier Strike Group 10

Cmdr. Matthew “Toe” Campbell relieved Cmdr. Robert “Sluggo” Whitmore as commanding officer of Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 121. The change of command ceremony took place above the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) during a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Sixth Fleet area of operations, March 16, 2023. Capt. Alex “Waldo” Hampton, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7, presided.

“Cmdr. Whitmore did an amazing job leading our most valuable asset – our people - through a rigorous pre-deployment work up cycle and for the duration of the 2022 to 2023 deployment,” said Hampton. “His relentless efforts to maintain peace and stability in support of our allies and missions in the U.S. Sixth fleet area of responsibility is a testament of his leadership and professionalism. Congratulations to Cmdr. Campbell – I look forward to seeing you lead the Bluetails as we finish strong for the remainder of our deployment.”

Whitmore, from Norwalk, Iowa, and a graduate of The Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina, assumed command of VAW-121 in Jan. 2022. He led the Bluetails during their 2022-2023 deployment with CVW-7, aboard George H. W. Bush.

“I am extremely proud of the hard work and dedication of the Sailors, chiefs, and officers of the Bluetails,” said Whitmore. “During this deployment our squadron accomplished unprecedented tasking and we not only strived but excelled thus catapulting our community into the future. Serving as the commanding officer has been the honor and privilege of my life. I wish nothing but success for Cmdr. Campbell and the Bluetails of VAW-121.”

During Whitmore’s tenure, the squadron completed a vigorous work-up cycle culminating in a 2022-2023 deployment. VAW-121 deployed in support of priority U.S. Sixth Fleet tasking. In total, they accumulated 1,530 total flight hours, 565 carrier landings and 503 sorties while under Whitmore’s leadership.

Campbell, from Cleveland, Tennessee, and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy, praised Whitmore’s leadership and addressed the squadron about the future of the Bluetails.

“I’m extremely humbled and honored to be the 47th commanding officer of the Bluetails,” said Campbell. “This was unlike any deployment the E-2 community has ever seen and every step of the way, this squadron performed exceptionally. It is one hundred percent due to the Sailors we have at this command. It is the Sailors that motivate and drive me. My only goal is to foster an environment where they can grow and develop personally and professionally and truly feel like they are being taken care of. Many thanks to commander Whitmore for leaving me with the absolute best Hawkeye squadron in the fleet.”

George H. W. Bush is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 10, George H.W. Bush CSG. CSG-10 is comprised of George H.W. Bush, CVW-7, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 26, and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55).

The ships of DESRON-26 within CSG-10 are the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Nitze (DDG 94), USS Farragut (DDG 99), USS Truxtun (DDG 103), and USS Delbert D. Black (DDG 119).

The Squadrons of CVW-7 embarked aboard George H. W. Bush are the “Sidewinders” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 86, the “Jolly Rogers” of VFA-103, the “Knighthawks” of VFA-136, the “Pukin’ Dogs” of VFA-143, the “Bluetails” of VAW-121, the “Patriots” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140, the “Nightdippers” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 5, and the “Grandmasters” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 46.

The George H.W. Bush CSG, is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa area of operations, employed by U.S. Sixth Fleet to defend U.S., allied and partner interests.