CDR Layne McDowell
Commander McDowell, a native of Crosbyton, TX, graduated with distinction from the U.S. Naval Academy as a Burke Scholar in 1995 with a BS in Aerospace Engineering, and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1997. He reported to the 'Grim Reapers' of VF-101 at NAS Oceana, VA for initial F-14 flight training and was subsequently assigned to the TOPHATTERS of VF-14 for his first operational fleet tour in November 1998.
Commander McDowell made two deployments with VF-14; first onboard USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) in 1999 participating in Operations ALLIED FORCE and SOUTHERN WATCH, and then onboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) in 2001 supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH and the initial phases of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. Commander McDowell served as a FAC(A) and Wing LSO during his tour with the TOPHATTERS. The TOPHATTERS were the recipient of the Battle 'E' and Joseph C. Clifton Trophy during his tour. Commander McDowell was selected to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (TPS) / Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) Cooperative program, graduating with a MS in Aeronautical Engineering from NPS upon completion of TPS in 2004. Commander McDowell then reported to VX-23 at NAS Pax River, MD where he served as a Carrier Suitability Test Pilot flying the F/A-18 A-F until September 2005.
In September 2005, Commander McDowell reported to the WARHAWKS of VFA-97 for his operational department head tour at NAS Lemoore, CA flying the F/A-18C. In 2006, he deployed with VFA-97 to Iwakuni, Japan as part of the USMC Unit Deployment Program. While assigned to VFA-97, Commander McDowell served as squadron Safety Officer, Maintenance Officer, and Operations Officer. The WARHAWKS were the recipient of the Battle 'E' and Michael J. Estocin award during his tour. Following his tour at VFA-97, Commander McDowell attended the Joint Forces Staff College in Norfolk, VA where he graduated from the Joint and Combined Warfighting School in March 2008. He then reported to Alaskan Command / Joint Task Force Alaska (ALCOM/JTF-AK) in Anchorage, AK where he served as Maritime and Arctic Plans Officer for ALCOM, and Civil Support Plans Officer for JTF-AK from April 2008 to April 2010. He then reported to the FLYING EAGLES of VFA-122 for training in the F/A-18 E/F as Prospective Executive Officer for the 'Black Aces' of VFA-41 at NAS Lemoore, CA. CDR McDowell assumed command of VFA-41 in April 2012.
CDR McDowell has accumulated over 2,000 flight hours and more than 400 carrier arrested landings in over 20 different aircraft models. His personal awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Air Medals (one Individual Action Air Medal with combat distinguishing device and three strike flight Air Medals), four Navy-Marine Corps Commendation Medals (two with combat distinguishing device), two Navy-Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and various campaign and unit awards.