News Release, NAVAIR News Public Affairs Office
NAS Pax River, MD- Cmdr. Jared D. Goul became the 25th commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 during a ceremony at NAS Patuxent River on Thursday, May 7, taking over from Cmdr. Matthew J. Tharp.
Rear Adm. John S. Lemmon, Commander, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, and himself a former commanding officer of VX-20, presided overthe change of command ceremony.
“The prospect of command, while very rewarding, can also be daunting,” Lemmon said. “The prospect is even more challenging during current events.”
Lemmon praised Tharp for navigating VX-20 through the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Keeping his VX-20 family safe and as ready as possible is a significant accomplishment,” Lemmon said.
Prior to joining VX-20 as the chief test pilot in October 2018, Goul served as the as the military class desk in the Persistent Maritime UAS Program Office (PMA-262), where he was responsible for all systems engineering and airworthiness on the MQ-4C Triton. During this tour, Cmdr. Goul was selected to be the aviation engineering duty officer assignments officer at the Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tennessee.
Following his graduation from theU.S. Naval Test Pilot Schoolwith Class 139 in June 2011, Goul served as a P-8A Poseidon project officer as the mission systems test lead in VX-20. Goul has also served with: Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Florida; Patrol Squadron (VP) 8 at NAS Brunswick, Maine; and conducted detachment operations in Senegal, Thailand, South Korea, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, Joint Guardian, Deliberate Forge, Joint Task Force-Liberia, and Unified Assistance.
A merit graduate of the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, Goul has a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He has more than 2,500 hours in 22 models of aircraft. His awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, five Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and numerous campaign, service, and unit awards.
“VX-20’s mission is simple, but the task is not,” Goul said. “It isn’t for the faint of heart and it isn’t for everyone. In these uncertain times, we will adapt and keep moving forward. VX-20 will continue to adapt and overcome and we will not fail. We cannot, and we will not, let the fleet down.”
Speaking to Tharp, Goul said, “Like any true gentleman, you’re leaving something behind in better shape than you found it. I hope to do you proud by doing the same.”
Prior to his latest tour with VX-20, Tharp served as the air operations officer aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), during which he led the carrier air traffic control center team through an unprecedented three aircraft carrier crew and hull swaps and a homeport change to Yokosuka, Japan.
As a department head with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115 in Atsugi, Japan, Tharp served as the safety officer, administrative officer, and maintenance officer. He participated in humanitarian operations as part of Operation Tomodachi in 2011, in counter-narcotics missions in the Caribbean, and combat missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
At VX-20, Tharp has also served as E-2C, E-2D and NC-130 project officer, E-2D government flight test director, and chief test pilot. Tharp graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1999 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering, and his personal awards include two Meritorious Service Medal awards, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and numerous other unit-level awards. Tharp’s next assignment will be as the operations officer aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
“To the men and women of VX-20: the hard part about today is not relinquishing command,” Tharp said. “The hard part about today was looking up and realizing that I will no longer be a part of Team Force. I truly believe that this is the greatest concentration of military, civilian, and contractor personnel in the Navy.”
“I know you’re ready to go,” Tharp said to Goul. “I will be excited to hear and see how you lead this squadron to great heights.”
During the ceremony, Col. Richard E. Marigliano, Commodore, Naval Test Wing Atlantic, awarded Tharp the gold star in lieu of a third award to his Meritorious Service Medal.
VX-20 provides full spectrum test and evaluation of scouting, patrol, carrier airborne early warning, fleet logistics support, electronic countermeasures, fleet tactical support, patrol special unit, Marine aerial refueler transport, and training aircraft. VX-20 also provides aerial refueling for the F-35 Lightning II, MV-22 Osprey and F/A-18E-F Super Hornet aircraft and safety/chase support aircraft for other platforms assigned to Naval Test Wing Atlantic. Last year, VX-20 executed over 140 test and evaluation projects totaling 1,314 sorties and over 3,480 flight hours.
VX-20 is a component of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, test wing under Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division. With facilities in Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida, NAWCAD advances capability and operational readiness for naval aviation.