Friday, February 10, 2017

Air Boss Welcomes USNA’s Future Naval Aviators

By MC2 Tyler Caswell

The U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) held its annual aviation community assignment dinner and reception Feb. 8 at Dahlgren Hall.

Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker (USNA ’82), commander, Naval Air Forces, addressed 310 first-class midshipmen who were selected to serve in the Navy aviation community about the status of current and future platforms and the state of naval aviation.

"Across our community, there is no better time to be a naval aviator," said Shoemaker. "There are plenty of opportunities to fight, fly and lead.”

Shoemaker emphasized that the training the midshipmen received during their four years at the Naval Academy will prove to be the backbone of their careers.

"The principles you have learned here, the work ethic you have developed and your commitment to something bigger than yourself will guide you and sustain you in the fleet," he said. "I have every confidence in each and every one of you.”

Senior leaders from the naval aviation community – including Adm. Bill Moran, vice chief of Naval Operations; Vice Adm. Joseph Rixey, director, Defense Security Cooperation Agency and Vice Adm. John Aquilino, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Operation, Plans and Strategy – joined representatives from aviation commands worldwide to celebrate the midshipmen’s choice to fly.

“I’m excited that I get to hear about other officers' fleet experiences,” said Midshipman 1st Class Olivia McQuade, class of 2017’s highest ranked naval flight officer selectee. “It really helps put us in a mindset of what to expect after graduation. It’s an in-depth look at the community we are joining.”

The Naval Academy Class of 2017 received their service assignments last November, marking a milestone that puts them one step closer to joining the fleet and Marine Corps as commissioned officers.

“It’s really quite an honor to be here with all of the current and future aviators of my class,” said Midshipman 1st Class Scotty Davids, class of 2017’s highest ranked pilot selectee. “It feels like a culminating event that really celebrates everything we have been working towards the past three and a half years.”

After graduation, the newly-commissioned ensigns will head to Pensacola, Fla. for flight training.

“When you take in our Marine Corps brothers and sisters, there are over 400-strong that will go into naval aviation from your class,” said USNA Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter. “Over 40 percent of your class will wear naval aviation wings of gold. Congratulations on your choice. The future is bright.”

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