CDR Kelly J. Richards of Luling, La., is a 1999 Graduate of the United States Naval Academy, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in general engineering and was commissioned an Ensign. He reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas for primary flight training and then intermediate and advanced training at NAS Kingsville, Texas, where he received his “Wings of Gold” and was designated a Naval Aviator in 2001.
CDR Richards reported to the Vikings of VAQ-129, NAS Whidbey Island, Wa. for initial qualification in the EA-6B Prowler. He joined his first fleet squadron, the Lancers of VAQ-131, in 2002. While assigned to the Lancers he graduated from Electronic Attack Weapons School and served as ADP, Aircraft and Quality Assurance Division Officer.
In 2005, CDR Richards was assigned as an exchange pilot with the USAF at Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo. There he performed as the Wing Electronic Warfare Officer and Survivability Flight CC for the 509th Operations Support Squadron, while flying the B-2A Spirit. That assignment included two deployments to Andersen AFB, Guam in support of the USAF’s Continuous Bomber Presence in the Pacific AOR.
CDR Richards returned to NAS Whidbey Island in 2008 as the Training Officer and Tactics Department Head for the Wizards of VAQ-133. In 2009, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and was named the Commander, Naval Air Forces Pacific, Pilot of the Year. In 2010, he returned to the Lancers of VAQ-131, where he served as the Tactics, Maintenance, and Operations Department Head.
CDR Richards reported to the Pentagon in 2012 as a Deputy Inspector General and a Deputy Division Chief for The Joint Staff. That tour included graduation from the DOD Inspector General Course and recognition as the Joint Staff Directorate of Management Action Officer of the Year for 2014. In 2015, he was promoted to Commander and reported to Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, as the Chief of Strategy Integration with the 607th Air Operations Center.
CDR Richards has been fully qualified in both the EA-6B Prowler and the B-2A Spirit aircraft and has deployed numerous times, flying over 200 combat sorties and logging over 930 combat hours in support of Operations Southern Watch, Iraqi Freedom, Enduring Freedom, and New Dawn. He has accumulated more than 2,700 total flight hours in the EA-6B, B-2A, T-38A, T-45A/C and T-34C and logged more than 430 arrested landings.
CDR Richards’ distinctions and awards include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Meritorious Service Medal, 10 Strike/Flight Air Medals, three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals (one with Valor), one Air Force Commendation Medal, one Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, one Army Achievement Medal, two Air Force Achievement Medals and various campaign and unit awards.
He assumed the duties of Executive Officer of Naval Air Station Kingsville in April of 2017.