U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Dail Fields relieved U.S. Navy Capt. Andrew Gephart as commanding officer of the Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 31 “Dust Devils” in an airborne change of command ceremony July 29, 2020, in China Lake, Calif.
As VX-31’s commanding officer, Gephart oversaw aircraft, test pilots, project officers, and flight test planning for research, development, test and evaluation of current and future manned aircraft, weapons and weapons systems. During his tenure, the Dust Devils helped develop numerous programs, including JSOW, Harpoon, LRASM, LMAV, AIM-120, AIM-9X, and Tomahawk as well as software upgrades for the F/A-18 C/D/E/F, EA-18G, AV-8B, and MH-60S helicopters.
The squadron also earned the Chief of Naval Operations Aviation Safety Award for 2019.
Gephart, a native of Dayton, Ohio, and graduate of Boston University, will remain in China Lake, taking over as the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division chief test pilot for the China Lake Ranges.
Fields, an F/A-18 pilot, is a graduate of Virginia Tech and holds a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering. Fields’ career assignments have included Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 212; 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit; Strike Fighter Squadron 106; USAF Test Pilot School; Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122; VX-23; the AV-8B Weapons Systems Program Office (PMA-257); and the F/A-18 Program Office (PMA-265). Fields most recently served as VX-31’s chief test pilot, a position he took in January 2019.