100 years of Naval Aviation: San Diego kick-off

As part of our ongoing celebration of the 2011 Centennial of Naval Aviation, the Compass brings you a guest post by Vice Adm. John Currier, the Coast Guard’s senior aviator.

Centennial aircraft

Four Coast Guard aircraft, an HC-144A Ocean Sentry from Mobile, Ala., an HU 25 Falcon from Corpus Christi, Texas, an MH 65 Dolphin from Los Angeles, and an MH 60 Jayhawk from San Diego, are parked on the flight line of Sector San Diego before the air show for the Centennial of Naval Aviation. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Jetta H. Disco.

Written by Vice Adm. John Currier, Chief of Staff and Deputy Commandant for Mission Support

This past weekend, I had the distinct honor of representing Admiral Bob Papp in San Diego as we ushered in the year-long celebration of the 100th Anniversary of Naval Aviation. The Coast Guard is an integral player in the proud history of Naval Aviation. Through these years of incredible service, aviators and aircrew from the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard have not only changed the face of war, but have revolutionized lifesaving and humanitarian service. From Coast Guard Aviator number one, Cmdr. Elmer Stone, to our first helicopter pilot, Capt. Frank Erickson, we continue a proud tradition of partnership with our surface, shore and marine safety forces to ensure the safety and security of mariners around the globe. This is who we are, this is what we do.

Vice Adm. Currier with Vice Adm. Myers and Lt. Gen. Robling

Navy Vice Adm. Allen G. Myers, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Terry G. Robling and Coast Guard Vice Adm. John Currier stand in front of a replica Spirit of St. Louis in the Air and Space Museum during the centennial reception dinner. U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Allyson E.T. Conroy.

The events in San Diego were the official kick-off of the Centennial of Naval Aviation. As part of the festivities, I attended the Centennial “Parade of Flight” aboard the USS Stennis moored at North Island Naval Base, San Diego. The Coast Guard, along with the Navy and Marine Corps co-hosted a distinguished visitor “chalet” to view the parade aboard Stennis with the Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Ray Mabus and the Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Amos, in attendance. Speaking with many of the hundreds aboard, I am gratified to relate that in the opinion of all, the Coast Guard remains a relevant and integral partner in the security and defense of our great nation.

During the parade of flight, I had the honor of meeting a WWII “Ace,” retired U.S. Navy Capt. Stanley “Swede” Vejtasa. Swede is the recipient of three Navy Crosses as well as a veteran of the battles of Midway and Coral Sea. In addition to his service in the Pacific, he went on to fight in Korea and Vietnam as an attack aviator. It was a privilege to shake the hand of such a true American hero and patriot.

The centennial events, like the one I attended in San Diego, will continue to “Honor Our Profession” as we celebrate 100 years of Naval Aviation. Semper Paratus!

Vice Adm. Currier and Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa

Coast Guard Chief of Staff, Vice Adm. John P. Currier, talks with Stanley "Swede" Vejtasa, a World War II "Ace" whose decorations and awards include three Navy Crosses, two Bronze Stars, a Legion of Merit, a Meritorious Service Medal and the Navy Commendation Medal. U.S Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Allyson E.T. Conroy.

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