Scorpions hold change of command at NAS Whidbey

Cmdr. Kerry “Beagle” Hicks was relieved by Cmdr. Marcus “Oompa” Kephart as the commanding officer of Electronic Attack Squadron 132.

The change of command ceremony for the VAQ-132 Scorpions was held virtually April 5 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and Misawa Air Base, Japan.

The Scorpions fly the EA-18G Growler out of NAS Whidbey.

Hicks reported to VAQ-132 as the executive officer in December 2018 and assumed command in February 2020.

During his tenure, Hicks had the difficult task of getting the squadron ready for deployment amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

By following CDC guidelines and taking extra precautions to mitigate COVID transmission risk, the Scorpions were able to safely meet their deployment readiness state two months ahead of schedule.

Under Hicks’ command the squadron completed the Electronic Warfare Advanced Readiness Program and executed multiple Large Force Exercises to include Red Flag Nellis 20-3, Red Flag Alaska 21-1 and another Red Flag Nellis 21-1.

During his tour with the VAQ-132, the squadron also received the Blue “H” and “M” awards for workplace health promotion policies, activities and outcomes.

“It was an absolute honor to have had the privilege of leading this winning team over the past 14 months,” said Hicks. “Thank you, Scorps, for all the memories … See you all around the fleet!”

Cmdr. Marcus Kephart, an Indiana native born in Fort Wayne and raised in Plymouth, is a graduate of Indiana Wesleyan University.

Kephart arrived at the Scorpions in February 2020 as executive officer.

Kephart assumes command of VAQ-132 as the squadron finishes their transit to Misawa Air Base for the squadron’s deployment in the United States Indo-Pacific Command Area of Responsibility.

“I could not be taking over at a more opportune time as we head out on deployment,” Kephart said.

“I am humbled to assume command of the Scorpions, a squadron with a rich history and legacy.”

The Scorpions also welcomed a new executive officer, Cmdr. James “Toadie” Charapich, who reported to VAQ-132 from the Missile Defense Agency at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

Commander Kephart

Commander Kephart