Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Holds Open House

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington

OAK HARBOR, Wash. – Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) opened its gates to the public July 19 for a base open house.

The open house was held to provide the general public an opportunity to witness the roles that Sailors perform in protecting United States’ interests and enhance the relationship that NASWI and the surrounding communities share.

“We’re part of the community and they’re part of us,” said Capt. Mike Nortier, commanding officer of NASWI. “It’s a great opportunity to bring the pubic on board and let them see more than they normally get to see.”

The open house included a 5k run on the base flight line, bus tours of the installation, live demonstrations of military working dogs by base security and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robots, static displays of various aircraft operated from NASWI, performance by Navy Band Northwest’s rock band “Passage,” booths featuring various tenant commands and organizations, and a climbing wall and bounce houses for children attending.

“I really enjoyed the music and seeing all the aircraft up close,” said Robert Coleman, and Army veteran and local business owner. “It really took me back to my time in the military.”

Events like this are essential in maintaining important relationships with the local community, said Nortier.

“Open houses are a great opportunity to bring the public inside the gates, let them see what we do, let them talk to Sailors and share their experiences,” said Nortier. “It lets them see that we’re people here to do a job and complete a mission, and help them understand what we do and why their support is so important to what we do.”

“It really helps getting to learn firsthand what these guys are getting ready for with all these flights,” said Coleman. “It reminds me that there’s more to it than just a little noise overhead.”

The event had a strong turnout despite poor weather.

“The weather’s not exactly what we’d hope for in July, but we’ve had a good turnout this morning and as the sun peaks out a little bit we’ll see a continued strong turnout through the day,” said Nortier. “We’re happy to have anybody that wants to come to the base.”

140719-N-DC740-133 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Kevin Kelly, director of Washington Pilot Association's Aviation Academy, presents Capt. Mike Nortier, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI), with a plaque thanking him for the base's continued support of the Aviation Academy program during NASWI's open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI's role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-133 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Kevin Kelly, director of Washington Pilot Association’s Aviation Academy, presents Capt. Mike Nortier, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI), with a plaque thanking him for the base’s continued support of the Aviation Academy program during NASWI’s open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI’s role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-009 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Runners cross the starting line of the 5k on the flight line during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI's role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-009 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Runners cross the starting line of the 5k on the flight line during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI’s role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-119 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Lt. Cmdr. David Waner, officer in charge of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's (NASWI) search and rescue unit (SAR) speaks with guests next to one of SAR's MH-60S Knighthawks during NASWI's open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI's role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-119 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Lt. Cmdr. David Waner, officer in charge of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s (NASWI) search and rescue unit (SAR) speaks with guests next to one of SAR’s MH-60S Knighthawks during NASWI’s open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI’s role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-102 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Musician 2nd Class James Choate, from Mangum, Okla., a member of Navy Band Northwest's rock band, "Passage," performs during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI's role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-102 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Musician 2nd Class James Choate, from Mangum, Okla., a member of Navy Band Northwest’s rock band, “Passage,” performs during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI’s role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-060 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Master-at-Arms 1st Class Kenneth Spade, from Harker Heights, Texas, and Fien, a military working dog, perform a demonstration for guests during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI's role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-060 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Master-at-Arms 1st Class Kenneth Spade, from Harker Heights, Texas, and Fien, a military working dog, perform a demonstration for guests during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI’s role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-030 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Dylan Holland, a student at Anacortes High, finishes the 5k run on the base flight line in 1st place with a time of 17 minutes and 38 seconds during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island's (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI's role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

140719-N-DC740-030 OAK HARBOR, Wash. (July 19, 2014) Dylan Holland, a student at Anacortes High, finishes the 5k run on the base flight line in 1st place with a time of 17 minutes and 38 seconds during Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s (NASWI) open house. The open house provides the general public an opportunity to interact with Sailors and learn more about NASWI’s role both in the community and the Navy. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Hetherington)

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