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Force Master Chief
Force Master Chief
Commander Michael R. Stephen
Commanding Officer, Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW) 117
26 October 2020
A native of Santa Barbara, California, Commander Mike “Heavin’” Stephen graduated from UC Davis in January 2001, earning a Bachelor of Arts in both Political Science and History. He completed Officer Candidate School at NAS Pensacola, FL and commissioned in March 2002. He reported to VT-4 for primary and intermediate flight training. Upon selecting the E-2C Hawkeye, he reported to VAW-120 and earned his Wings of Gold as a Naval Flight Officer in February 2004.
In June 2004, CDR Stephen joined the “Black Eagles” of VAW-113 while deployed with Carrier Air Wing 14 aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The “Black Eagles” again deployed in 2006 and 2007 aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. During this tour he served as the Public Affairs Officer, Educational Services Officer, Avionics Division Officer, and NFO NATOPS Officer. He was selected as the 2007 AFCEA Copernicus Award winner for contributions to C4I and as the 2007 Commander ACCLOGWING Naval Flight Officer of the year.
CDR Stephen reported back to VAW-120 in July 2007 as an instructor Naval Flight Officer where he served as the Tactics Phase Head, E-2D Officer, and E-2C NATOPS Unit Evaluator for the Hawkeye Community. He was a member of the Hawkeye Tactical Analysis Team and served as a Weapons Tactics Instructor.
In October 2010, CDR Stephen reported to USS Enterprise (CVN 65) to serve as the Assistant Navigator and deployed in 2011 and 2012. Following this tour, he attended the US Army’s Command and General Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, KS for Joint Professional Military Education and received a Master of Science degree in Adult, Occupational and Continuing Education from Kansas State University.
CDR Stephen reported for his Department Head tour with the “Wallbangers” of VAW-117 in October 2013 while deployed with Carrier Air Wing 11 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The “Wallbangers” again deployed in 2015 with the east coast Carrier Air Wing 7 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. He held the positions of Administrative Officer, Operations Officer, and Special Projects Officer.
In February 2016, CDR Stephen reported to U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany for joint duty, where he served as a J31 Joint Operations Center Operations Officer monitoring U.S. operations on the African continent.
CDR Stephen has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours and over 400 arrested landings. His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Strike/Flight Air Medal, Navy Commendation Medal (4 awards), Navy/Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and various unit, campaign, and service awards.
VAW-117 Commanding Officer