The Navy relieved Cmdr. Cassidi Reese, commanding officer of the "Dust Devils" of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 following her Nov. 4, 2022, arrest for allegedly driving while intoxicated at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. Coffee or Die Magazine composite.
Big Navy dumped its top Dust Devil and replaced her with her chief test pilot.
On Thursday, Nov. 17, Capt. Ryan J. Bryla, the commodore of Naval Test Wing Pacific, relieved Cmdr. Cassidi Reese, 40, as the commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 because she allegedly got caught drunk driving on California’s Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake 13 days earlier.
She’d been at the helm of the squadron for only eight months. Navy and Marine aviators in VX-31 run test flights on new or improved tactical planes and helicopters and provide search and rescue support inside China Lake’s 2508 range complex and the Point Magu Sea Range.
Bryla permanently replaced Reese with the Dust Devils’ chief test pilot, Cmdr. Chris Putre, a career F/A-18E/F Super Hornet strike fighter aviator.
“Navy commanding officers are held to high standards of personal and professional conduct,” said Naval Air Systems Command spokesperson Marcia T. Hart in a prepared statement. “They are expected to uphold the highest standards of responsibility, reliability, and leadership, and the Navy holds them accountable when they fall short of those standards.”
An EA-18G Growler from the "Dust Devils" of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 launches from Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu on Aug. 23, 2022. VX-31 is based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California, and charged with conducting safe, effective, and efficient flight testing and evaluation of aircraft and weapon systems in direct support of the Naval Aviation Fleet. US Navy photo by Ensign Drew Verbis.
Reese has been reassigned to Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division. She didn’t return Coffee or Die Magazine’s messages seeking comment.
Hart said Reese's new role will be to focus on the center's "research, development, test and evaluation mission."
Reese's name doesn't appear on the Navy's court-martial docket and there's no record of her arrest in federal or California county courts.
A native of Grand Forks, North Dakota, Reese graduated from the US Naval Academy in 2004. She also was a distinguished graduate of the US Naval Test Pilot School’s Class 139.
She served at sea with the “Black Knights” of Strike Fighter Squadron 154, Carrier Air Wing 2, and the “Red Rippers” of VFA-11. Her deployments included duty on board the aircraft carriers John C. Stennis, Ronald Reagan, and Theodore Roosevelt.
An EA-18G Growler from the "Dust Devils" of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 launches from Naval Base Ventura County Point Mugu in California on Aug. 23, 2022. US Navy photo by Ensign Drew Verbis.
She’s served all her ashore duties at China Lake. She previously was responsible for System Configuration Sets H8, H8 Phase 2, and H10 before becoming the squadron’s radar project officer, overseeing testing for the APG-65, 73, and 79 systems.
Reese returned to the Dust Devils in later 2017 as the Advanced Sensor Integration Department head and was advanced to Advanced Weapons Laboratory military deputy in early 2019.
She was named VX-31’s chief test pilot in 2020 and fleeted up as the squadron's commanding officer eight months ago.
Reese has accumulated more than 2,900 flight hours on 25 different aircraft. In 2010, she was named the junior officer recipient of the Capt. Joy Bright Hancock Leadership Award. Two years later, she became VX-31's Test Naval Flight Officer of the Year.
Her decorations include the Air Medal with two Strike/Flight awards, three Navy Commendation Medals and two Navy Achievement Medals.
Editor's Note: This article was updated with a statement about Reese's new duties at the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division.
Carl Prine is a former senior editor at Coffee or Die Magazine. He has worked at Navy Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune, and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors, and the Combat Infantryman Badge.
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