Oceana Naval Air Station undergoes change of command

By Brock Vergakis


One of the largest military bases in Hampton Roads has a new leader.

Capt. Rich Meadows became the 44th commanding officer of Oceana Naval Air Station in a ceremony Friday. He relieves Capt. Louis J. Schager.

Oceana consists of about 6,000 acres and serves as the Navy’s East Coast Master Jet Base. It is home to 18 F/A-18 Hornet and Super Hornet squadrons and hosts a major air show each year that attracts tens of thousands of visitors.

Including Dam Neck Annex, Oceana has about 10,500 active Navy and 4,500 civilian personnel, making it the second-largest employer in Virginia Beach after Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, according to the Navy. It also supports more than 10,000 Navy family members.

Schager had been in charge of the base since March 2015 after serving as its executive officer for 18 months. His tenure included overseeing the Navy’s response to tests that showed the well water was contaminated at Fentress Naval Auxiliary Landing Field in Chesapeake and several nearby homes.

Schager is retiring after 26 years of service, which included two deployments aboard the aircraft carrier USS George Washington in the Persian Gulf.

Meadows most recently was Oceana’s executive officer. He joined the Navy in 1991 after graduating from the University of California.

Meadows has held a variety of jobs. He deployed in 2002 aboard the nation’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the USS Enterprise, in support of operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.

He commanded the Electronic Attack Squadron Gray Wolves in 2008, completing two deployments in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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