Commander Kevin D. Bohnstedt

by Thomas Allen Bohnstedt, California USA
     (the text of this page is my intellectual property. Please do not copy and repost without my written permission)


Commander Kevin Derek Bohnstedt, May 2002


Naval Aviation

Kevin Bohnstedt, son of Max and Carol Bohnstedt, graduated in the top 10 in his high school class from Plantation High School, Plantation Florida, in 1979, receiving a Navy scholarship for college. He attended Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee and was active in university bands and professional societies. Kevin was also active in the Reserve Officer’s Training Corps, and by his senior year had attained the rank of Midshipman Commander. He graduated from Vanderbilt with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics in 1983 and on graduation day was commissioned an officer in the United States Navy as an Ensign.

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1. Grumman A-6 "Intruder" Navy attack plane of VA-145 "Swordsmen", from the USS Ranger, 1987
2. Squadron emblem, VA-145 "Swordsmen"

Kevin underwent flight training at Pensacola Florida, and was designated an NFO (Naval Flight Officer). After training as a bombardier/navigator in the Grumman-built A-6 Intruder medium bomber aircraft he was assigned to the attack squadron VA-145 "Swordsmen" in 1985. During his tour with VA-145 Ensign Kevin Bohnstedt was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTjg) and then Lieutenant (LT).

Throughout this tour he deployed aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61) numerous times. From July 1987 to January 1988 VA-145 was deployed to the Western Pacific and the Indian Ocean aboard the Ranger. He then applied to re-train as a pilot, and returned to Pensacola in 1988 for further training.


The 1991 Persian Gulf War

After retraining, Kevin was assigned to the VA-115 "Eagles" based at Atsugi Japan, this time as an A-6 pilot. He joined VA-115 in December 1990, already at sea aboard the USS Midway, headed for the Persian Gulf. On January 15, 1991, U.S. Forces launched Operation Desert Storm to drive Iraqi military forces from Kuwait.

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1. U.S. Navy Battle Group, headed for the Persian Gulf, 1990, in preparation for Desert Shield/Desert Storm. The U.S.S. Midway is in the center of the group
2. Squadron emblem, VA-115 "Eagles"

Lieutenant Kevin Bohnstedt flew his first combat mission with the Eagles on the second night of the battle, and was credited with sinking an Iraqi patrol craft in Kuwait Harbor. Throughout the action, Kevin flew 34 missions from the Midway without mishap and participated in numerous bombing missions.

Click to Watch Video
1. Video: Lieutenant Kevin Bohnstedt's 1992 CBS interview aboard the USS Independence. (mp4)
2. A-6 Intruder of VA-115 "Eagles" launching

In the Summer of 1991 VA-115 was moved, or “crossdecked”, from the USS Midway to the USS Independence after returning to Japan. They deployed in 1992 and were the first squadron to fly in Operation Southern Watch, the enforcement of the No-Fly zone over southern Iraq. It was during this time that Kevin was interviewed aboard the Independence by CBS television and aired across the United States.

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1. U.S.S. Independence, 1990s
2. A-6 Intruder on a low-level bombing run


Opportunities for Command

Kevin was promoted to Lieutenant Commander (LCDR), and from October 1993 to May 1994 he retrained in the newer McDonnell-Douglas built F/A-18 "Hornet" attack fighter aircraft. He was then assigned to the strike fighter squadron VFA-137 "Kestrels." He deployed with them aboard the USS Constellation, again supporting Operation Southern Watch. While with the Kestrels Kevin was Administrative Officer, Operations Officer and Maintenance Officer, leading 150 men.

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1. An F/A-18 Hornet of VFA-137 lifts off from the bow catapult as the flight deck crew readies for another launch
2. Squadron emblem, VFA-137
3. Boeing F/A-18 Hornet from VFA-137 "Kestrals"

Lt. Commander Kevin Bohnstedt then spent some time at the Naval War College in Newport Rhode Island, and earned a Master of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies.  In 1998 he transferred to United States European Command in Germany, where he was promoted to Commander and selected for future operational command of an F/A-18 Squadron.  While in Europe, he worked intensively to provide manpower for the continuing struggles in the former Yugoslavia, and significantly contributed to the effort in Operation "Noble Anvil", the air war over Kosovo.

In February of 2001 Kevin was assigned to the strike fighter squadron VFA-151 "Vigilantes" as its Executive Officer. VFA-151 was then deployed aboard the USS Constellation in support of continuing Operation Southern Watch.

1.  F/A-18 Hornet of VFA-151 "Vigilantes" preparing for launch from the USS Constellation
2. View from the cockpit of an F/A-18 Hornet strike-fighter

After deploying to the Arabian Gulf, Kevin was participating in training exercises practicing night intercepts. During one of these exercises, with Commander Kevin Bohnstedt flying lead, one of the other Hornets, flown by Lieutenant McLaughlin, appeared to be in trouble, with one engine at full power and the other shut down or at idle. To make matters worse, when Cdr. Bohnstedt and the others tried communicating with Lt. McLaughlin, they found that he was unable to speak directly with them.

Later investigation revealed that one of the engines on McLaughlin's aircraft had leaked oil all over the engine bay after launch, and the engine had eventually shut down. The investigation also revealed that McLaughlin's microphone cord had shorted out immediately after launch, and he was unable to directly communicate his problem to the other pilots.

An article written by Kevin appeared in the December 2001 issue of Approach, a magazine by, for and about U.S. Navy aviation personnel. In the article, titled "Who Says Single-Seaters Don't Need Crew Coordination?", Kevin describes the emergency, and the measures that he and the other pilots of the flight employed to help Lt. McLaughlin return safely to the ship, and prepare the flight deck crew for an emergency recovery.

In June 2002 Commander Kevin Bohnstedt assumed command of VFA-151 and over 200 Navy personnel including pilots and support personnel.

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1. December 2001 issue of Approach, a magazine by, for and about U.S. Navy aviation personell. Click here for a PDF reproduction of the original article by Commander Kevin Bohnstedt: "Who Says Single-Seaters Don't Need Crew Coordination?".
2. Unit emblem; VFA-151 "Vigilantes"

In 2003 CDR Kevin Bohnstedt applied for retirement from the U.S. Navy after 20 years of service.  His personal decorations include the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, four Air Medals, the Joint Services Commendation Medal, five Navy Commendation Medals, three Navy Achievement Medals, and numerous unit and service awards.



It's a Small World

About 20 years ago (the parties involved think it was about 1996) there was a chance encounter at the Arizona Air National Guard (ANG) station in Tucson Arizona. William R. "Bill" Bohnstedt and his wife, Carla Lopez-Bohnstedt, were non-commissioned enlisted personnel with the Arizona ANG at the time, and Bill and Carla had been married about two years.

One day Bill was in one of the offices, talking to Carla, when a pilot wearing a flight suit walked in and sat down on one of the couches on the waiting room. Bill noticed the pilot's name tag, which said "Bohnstedt", and silently motioned Carla to direct her attention there. Bill then walked over and introduced himself, and started a conversation.

It turned out that the pilot was a naval aviator; Kevin D. Bohnstedt, who had flown in with his squadron, VFA-137 "Kestrels", to participate in Dissimilar Air Combat Training. The Tucson ANG station is home to the 162nd Fighter Wing. Because the 162nd flies the very fast and maneuverable F-16 jet fighters, they are often used to train Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps fighter squadrons in air combat techniques using mock dogfights, in which "kills" are scored electronically.

1. Lieutenant Colonel Willam R. Bohnstedt, Georgia Air National Guard
2. Kevin Bohnstedt, TETER Architects and Engineers

William R. "Bill" Bohnstedt is currently with the Georgia Air National Guard. He is now a Lieutenant Colonel and is the commander of the 129th Combat Training Squadron at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia. The 129th is currently tasked with training flight crews for the large E-8C airborne command and control aircraft.

Shortly after retirement from the Navy, Kevin began supplementing his engineering education with architectural training, and began a new career in architecture with Teter architectural firm in northern California.


Book References:
- Bohnstedt, Kevin D. Information Should be an Operational Factor of War in the Information Age. Naval War College, Newport Rhode Island.  1997
- Bohnstedt, Kevin D. Who Says Single-Seaters Don't Need Crew Coordination?, Approach Magazine, December 2001


See Also:
3-15 / The Descendants of Alfred J. Bohnstedt in Indiana and the Southeast / Descendants of Charles Loren Bohnstedt
3-26 / The Bohnstedts in Georgia

3-34 / Genealogy 3-3-6: America; Indiana and the Southeast


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