James A. Winnefeld, Jr.

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James A. Winnefeld, Jr.
Admiral James A. Winnefeld, Jr.jpg
Birth name James Alexander Winnefeld, Jr.
Born (1956-04-24) April 24, 1956 (age 58)
Coronado, California, U.S.
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch United States Department of the Navy Seal.svg United States Navy
Years of service 1978–present
Rank US Navy O10 infobox.svg Admiral
Commands held Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
U.S. Northern Command
North American Aerospace Defense Command
U.S. Sixth Fleet
Carrier Strike Group Two
USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
USS Cleveland (LPD-7)
Battles/wars Operation Desert Shield
Gulf War
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
Iraq War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
Defense Superior Service Medal
Legion of Merit (2)
Bronze Star Medal
Meritorious Service Cross (Canada)

James Alexander "Sandy" Winnefeld, Jr. (born April 24, 1956)[1] is a United States Navy four-star admiral who currently serves as the ninth Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He previously served as the fourth Commander, U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) and the 21st Commander, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) from May 19, 2010 to August 3, 2011. Prior to that, Winnefeld served as Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, The Joint Staff which he concurrently served as the Senior Member, U.S. Delegation to the U.N. Military Staff Committee. His other operational commands include serving as the Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet and Commander, Allied Joint Command Lisbon. As the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Winnefeld is the second highest-ranking officer in the United States Armed Forces, second only to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He assumed his current assignment on August 4, 2011.


Winnefeld graduated from Georgia Tech in 1978 with high honors in Aerospace Engineering and received his commission via the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program.[2] While at Georgia Tech, Winnefield was a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity. After designation as a naval aviator, he served with two fighter squadrons and as an instructor at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). While an instructor at TOPGUN, he worked with crew from Paramount Pictures on the production of the movie Top Gun. Winnefeld went on to graduate with the highest distinction from the U.S. Naval War College off-campus program. He is a recipient of the Admiral William J. Crowe Award as Joint Staff Action Officer of the Year and the Vice Admiral William W. Behrens, Jr. award as the honor graduate of his Navy nuclear power school class.

His command tours include Fighter Squadron 211 (VF-211), USS Cleveland (LPD-7) and as the 17th commanding officer of the USS Enterprise (CVN-65). He led Enterprise through her 18th deployment, which included combat operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom immediately after the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001. As commander, Carrier Strike Group 2/Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, he led Task Forces 50, 152 and 58 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime interception operations in the Persian Gulf. He most recently served concurrently as Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet; Commander, Allied Joint Command Lisbon; Commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO;[3] Deputy Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe; and Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander, Europe.[3]

His shore tours include service as an action officer in the Joint Staff Operations Directorate, as senior aide to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as executive assistant to the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. As a flag officer he served ashore as Director, Warfare Programs and Transformational Concepts, United States Fleet Forces Command and as Director, Joint Innovation and Experimentation at United States Joint Forces Command.

September 11 attacks[edit]

Winnefeld was the commanding officer of the USS Enterprise during the September 11 attacks.[4] The USS Enterprise was headed to Cape Town, South Africa, for one last port call before returning home after a six-month deployment near the Persian Gulf.[4] The crew was watching television at sea on September 11th and watched the hijacked United Airlines Flight 175 airliner strike the south tower of the World Trade Center.[4] Acting without authorization from the National Command Authority, then-Captain Winnefeld gave the order to put the ship's rudder over (180° degree turn) to take station in the Arabian Sea.[4] The carrier's aircraft were within range of Afghanistan the next morning.[4] For over three weeks, aircraft from USS Enterprise flew nearly 700 missions and dropped large amounts of ordnance over Afghanistan. The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark praised Winnefeld and credited him for taking initiative as well as for USS Enterprise's crew readiness.[4]

Military awards[edit]

U.S. Military decorations
Naval Aviator Badge.jpg
Joint Chiefs of Staff seal.svg
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with one bronze oak leaf cluster)
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal
Gold star
Legion of Merit (with one gold award star)
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star Medal
Defense Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Defense Meritorious Service Medal
Meritorious Service ribbon.svg Meritorious Service Medal
Air Medal ribbon.svgAward numeral 1.png Air Medal with Strike/Flight numeral 1
Gold star
Navy Commendation Medal (with gold award star)
Us jointservachiev rib.svg Joint Service Achievement Medal
Navy and Marine Corps Achievement ribbon.svg Navy Achievement Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Joint Meritorious Unit Award (with bronze oak leaf cluster)
Bronze star
Navy Unit Commendation Ribbon (with bronze service star)
Navy "E" Ribbon w/ Wreathed Battle E device (5 awards)
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (with bronze service star)
Bronze star
Bronze star
Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (with two bronze service stars)
Bronze star
Southwest Asia Service Medal (with bronze service star)
Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
Global War on Terrorism Service ribbon.svg Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
Bronze star
Silver star
Navy Sea Service Deployment Ribbon (with silver and bronze service star)
MSC ribbon-military.png Meritorious Service Cross Military Division from Her Majesty's Government for Canada[5]
USN Expert Pistol Shot Ribbon.png Navy Expert Pistol Shot Medal

He's also a recipient of the William J. Crowe, William W. Behrens, Jr. awards and the 2012 recipient of the Naval War College Distinguished Graduate Leadership Award.


External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Victor Renuart
Commander of the North American Aerospace Defense Command
Commander of the United States Northern Command

Succeeded by
Charles Jacoby
Preceded by
James Cartwright
Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff