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NAS Whidbey Island Celebrates 65th Birthday

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS070926-25
Release Date: 9/26/2007 6:08:00 PM

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Fleet Public Affairs Center Det. Northwest

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island celebrated its 65th birthday at Adm. Nimitz Hall, the base galley, Sept. 21.

The event included displays that showed how Whidbey Island has changed since its creation as a temporary base in 1942 during World War II, to what it has become now.

Capt. Gerral David, commanding officer of NAS Whidbey Island, spoke at the ceremony giving references to the time frame when “Casablanca” and “Bambi” being the top movies, “White Christmas” by Bing Crosby was a hit song and America was testing its first jet aircraft.

“The base is old enough for social security and I’m applying for it because I need more money,” joked David during his speech.

A cake was prepared by Culinary Specialist (CS) 1st Class (SW/AW) Michael Hanbury who made the NAS Whidbey Island logo and David’s command slogan, “Prepared for war, committed to peace,” free hand. The cake was cut by the two members who had served the longest on NAS Whidbey Island, Bob Burke and Darryl Turado, and the youngest CS serving in the galley, Seaman Patricia Fernandez.

“I was honored to cut the cake and it was great to come here and participate,” said Turado, who has worked in Hangar 1 since 1972. “I’m getting ready to retire in the next three months, so it was great to take part in at least one ceremony before I retire.”

NAS Whidbey Island was established in 1942 as a temporary air base to serve as a rearming and refueling station, if Puget Sound was attacked. After World War II, it was scheduled to be closed, but, due to Naval Station Seattle’s lack of potential for expansion, it was decided that NAS Whidbey Island would remain in service.

“It’s changed immensely in its look and technology has come a long way,” said Turado. “When I first came here, I wouldn’t see people in the chow hall on computers. I would see people washing dishes.”

Burke, who is the longest-serving person on NAS Whidbey Island with 37 years, is the curator for Hangar 1 and still enjoys his work and being in Oak Harbor after all this time.

“Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be involved with aviation, I got the chance to do that through the Navy,” said Burke. “I work on Search and Rescue helicopters and I really enjoy doing my job. It’s very rewarding saving lives and supporting the community is tremendous.”

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