Wednesday’s change of command at the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center was a bittersweet day for Rear Adm. Mark “Cyrus” Vance.
Not only did the highly decorated pilot and commander of the Navy’s most prestigious aviation school relinquish command to Rear Adm. Andy “Woody” Lewis, he retired from the military after 33 years. Vance, a native of Billings, Mont., who assumed command of NSAWC in October 2011, will relocate to northwest Montana with his wife, Darien.
“Wow, 33 years. When you say that, it sounds like a long time,” said Vance, a 1980 University of Idaho graduate whose aviation call sign is Cyrus. “But when you get up every morning and put on the uniform, you go to a job you absolutely love.”
Vance has said coming to Fallon near the end of his career was a dream come true. He and his young family first came to central Nevada more than 17 years ago, when the naval aviator was then assigned to the Strike Warfare Center. That was months before Fallon acquired the Navy Fighter Weapons School.
“This has been one of the most rewarding and most fun tours,” Vance said.
Lewis, a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, showed his enthusiasm when he delivered his remarks.
“I am a pretty happy guy to take command of this place,” he said. “Cyrus has this command running in the right direction.”