Rear Admiral Klunder has been a strong leader and ardent supporter of the Hawkeye and Greyhound community during his distinguished thirty-two year naval career. He made unprecedented and significant contributions to the operational capabilities of the E-2 and enhanced its relevance in naval aviation and the modern carrier strike group. His accomplishments are numerous, significantly impacting the community and Navy. They include: As a junior officer his career began in VAW 112 where he made two deployments to the western Pacific and Indian Ocean. His skill as a pilot earned him numerous “Top Hook” awards in the air wing. From VAW 112 he was selected to return to VAW 110 as a pilot instructor, the pilot NATOPS Officer and the COMNAVAIRPAC Evaluator. His superb performance as a Fleet Replacement Squadron instructor earned him the 1988 “Hawkeye of the Year” award in a time when there were only two such awards, one east coast and one west coast, given each year. In recognition of his skills as a pilot and his academic achievement Rear Admiral Klunder was selected to attend The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School. After completion of TPS he reported to Force Warfare Test Directorate as an E-2/C-2 test pilot. While in that billet he tested and certified the T-56-427 engine including certifying the heavy gross weight aircraft for carrier operations with high risk parameters and single engine operations in high risk parameters. He set 21 world flying records for turboprop aircraft, most of which still stand today. He also found time to complete a Master Degree in Aerodynamics and Aviation Systems. In recognition of his performance as a test pilot he was selected as the 1991 “Test Pilot of the Year.” Following his department head tour with VAW 115, Rear Admiral Klunder served on the Joint Staff and in the National Military Command Center as Senior Operations Officer and SIOP Officer during Operations JOINT ENDEAVOR, DESERT STRIKE and the O’Grady rescue. Selected for squadron command, Rear Admiral Klunder was the executive office and commanding officer of VAW 115. During his time in command the squadron received the Battle E, the AEW Excellence Award and the Golden Anchor Award. Following command and after earning a second master degree at the National War College he again reported to the Joint Staff as its liaison officer to the State Department. It was during this tour he received the 2002 “George C. Marshall Statesman Award.” As a result of his exceptional performance in squadron command Rear Admiral Klunder was selected for major command as commander of Carrier Air Wing FIVE where he led his air wing on two deployments. Following his CAG tour and time on the OPNAV Staff in N3/5 he was selected to be the 83 rd Commandant of Midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. Following his selection to flag rank, Rear Admiral Klunder became the Chief of Naval Research at the Office of Naval Research. In that capacity he championed the incorporation of enhanced radar side lobe cancellation, radar antenna improvements, Hawkeye NIFCA-CA and CEC enhancements in high speed processing and resilient wave form development. He was also involved in ONR programs for the E-2 cockpit redesign and the initial work on future carrier landing assist algorithms. Rear Admiral Klunder’s highly distinguished career had a great impact on the VAW/VRC Community, naval aviation and the Navy. His leadership inside and outside our Community set the example for future Community officers to strive for and demonstrated that Hawkeye/Greyhound leaders are among the best in the Navy. His hands-on mentorship of Community officers while he was in and out of uniform and the example he has set have made an invaluable impact on the skills and aspirations of our current and future leaders. His dedicated service and many outstanding contributions warrant his selection to the VAW VRC Hall of Honor
Mr. Thomas Whitehead While he never wore a uniform as an active duty member of the Hawkeye/Greyhound Community, Thomas “Tom” Whitehead has served our Community every day of the last 50 years in one role or another. Leaving the Navy in 1973 after serving as an enlisted sailor in the Surface Warfare Community, Tom went to work for Grumman Aerospace as an avionics technician in the E-2C Radar Development Program. He was an integral member of the team of technicians that took the aircraft numbers 1, 2 and 3 of the new model of the Hawkeye through its successful Board of Inspection and Survey (BIS) trials. He went on to be a member of the Tiger Team that “groomed” the 4 new E-2Cs that would go on its first deployment with the VAW 123 Screwtops on USS Saratoga. Tom would remain with the team to prepare other E-2C squadrons for their first deployments. Tom was a “Jack of all trades” as a member of the Grumman Hawkeye Program. He spent time in the Anechoic Chamber at the Grumman facility in Calverton, New York, conducting source/victim electromagnetic Interference testing on the Hawkeye. He traveled the globe with the Hawkeye Foreign Military Sales (FMS) Team, primarily providing engineering support to the test and evaluation squadron and PMA 231 at Patuxent River and the in-country integration teams in the customer nations. When not supporting the FMS teams, Tom supporting Fleet Integration Teams for subsequent upgrades to the Hawkeye, doing on-call radar troubleshooting in the squadrons and training Grumman Technical Representatives who supported all Fleet squadrons at home and on deployment. When there was a problem with a Hawkeye avionics system that could not be fixed or when avionics expertise or training was needed Tom was the person they called. In 1992 Tom relocated to San Diego where he supported the Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) as part of the E-2/C-2 Engineering Group. In this capacity he was a prime mover in the drafting of the avionics operational performance specification for the E-2C Scheduled Depot Level Maintenance (SDLM) and later evolved that document to support the new Phased Depot Maintenance concept for the Hawkeye and Greyhound aircraft. In recognition of his extensive experience and expertise in the Hawkeye, Tom moved north from NAS North Island, and NADEP, to NAS Miramar where he became Grumman Projects Manager supporting six E-2C squadrons as the manager of all Technical Representatives and the direct liaison between Grumman, later Northrop Grumman, and the Fleet. When the west coast Hawkeye Community moved from Miramar to Point Mugu, his management of the Northrop Grumman support and his close coordination with the VAW/VRC Wing and all Hawkeye squadrons contributed greatly to the execution of the move without any reduction in operational readiness. After four years of supporting the Hawkeyes in Point Mugu, Tom returned to NAS North Island as the Northrop Grumman Technical Services Sector west coast division manager. In this position he, along with his team of engineers and technicians, worked hand in hand with the Naval Aviation Depot to ensure the best possible depot level maintenance on all Northrop Grumman products, especially the Hawkeye and Greyhound. After retiring in 2012 Tom’s support of the VAW/VRC Community did not end, it merely changed directions. It was about this time that the museum ship USS Midway was looking to develop the ready room spaces on board as additional parts of the ship tour. Tom was a member of small cadre of former Hawkeye/Greyhound officers who came together to rehab one of the spaces as the Hawkeye/Greyhound ready room, Ready Room 4. The superb way that Ready Room 4 exhibits the legacy of our great Community stands as proof of the hard work and dedication of Tom and the other members of this group of Community alumni. Tom was the group engineer and supervised all of the rehab effort dedicating thousands of hours to the project. Even after the completion of Ready Room 4 Tom has been the primary person responsible for the maintenance and updating of the ready room. He has also supported the efforts to create the VAW 115 Avionics Shop and Air Transfer Office (ATO) displays on Midway. The group that made Ready Room 4 a reality went on to become the genesis of what is now the VAW/VRC Foundation. Tom has been a member of the board of directors since its inception and dedicates countless hours to supporting Foundation activities and its events on Midway and at the annual Tailhook Association Convention. Tom Whitehead is neither a retired senior naval officer nor a former leader of industry, but he has had a remarkable and invaluable impact in making our Community as great as it is today. His impact comes from his total dedication and his willingness to work down in the trenches and get things done. Additionally, he is universally liked and appreciated for his forward leaning, innovative and proactive approach to every task and his engaging, congenial manner. Tom Whitehead’s contributions to the VAW/VRC Community over the past 50 years – and counting – more than justify, they demand, his selection to the Hawkeye Greyhound Hall of Honor.