Retiring Northrop Grumman employee named 29th Honorary Naval Aviator
By Tony Popp
NAS Public Affairs
Over 200 military and civilian personnel from the Electronic Attack community gathered at Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 on Jan. 13, 2017, to retire Joseph Farina, who was surprised with an Honorary Naval Aviator Award from Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John M. Richardson after spending 42 of his 53 years with Northrop Grumman providing logistical support to the U.S. Navy.
Capt. Trevor Estes, VAQ-129’s Fleet Replacement Training Commanding Office, pinned the wings on Farina on behalf of the CNO. As Naval Air Station Whidbey Island’s Northrop Grumman Senior Logistics Field Representative, Farina becomes the 29th Honorary Naval Aviator to joins the ranks of such notables as legendary entertainer Bob Hope, Adm. Arleigh Burke and Gen. “Jimmy” Doolittle.
“It was the biggest surprise of my life,” said Farina. “I was stunned. My wife and I consider all the military men and women, civilians and contractors here part of our extended family. We’re proud of them and I thank them all…I’m honored and humbled.”
Farina has been a mainstay for Commander, Electronic Attack Wing (CVWP) for both the EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler.
“Farina's personal contribution to aerospace and aviation for over 53 years is nothing short of phenomenal,” said Estes. “His overall support coordination of Naval Aviation with the Operational Wing, Squadrons, Supply Department, NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) and Northrop Grumman engineering/vendors has resulted in hundreds of successful squadron deployments scheduled worldwide.”
Farina came to NAS Whidbey Island in 1974 in what was supposed to be a temporary two-year assignment from the Lunar Module program in Florida. He was sent by the Grumman Corporation to specifically support the Aviation Electronic Attack (AEA) community and particularly the EA-6B in its initial warfighting suites known as the Standard and Expanded (EXCAP) capability. His work ensured the fleet met the worldwide post-Vietnam Cold War challenges.
Farina was the primary logistic interface between the Grumman/Northrop Grumman Corporation, Navy Supply, Naval Inventory Control Point, Naval Air Systems Command and appropriate Program Management Agencies, Type Wing and all AEA deployers for East and West coasts and expeditionary deployments.
His support continued in the transition to EA-6B Improved Capability (ICAP I, II, III), and eventually to the replacement aircraft the EA-18G in 2009. He personally watched the flow of each aircraft component and Weapons Replaceable Assembly as it proceeded in the logistics and repair process.
Capt Scott Farr, Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, spoke at the ceremony recalling Farina’s career milestones. “Joe helped our community in over 195 EA-6B/EA-18G major carrier deployments to the Western Pacific and Indian oceans, Atlantic Ocean, Mediterranean Sea, and 52 EA-6B/EA-18G expeditionary deployments to Northern Italy, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Japan and Korea,” said Farr. Farina was also involved in the AEA presence as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Force in Japan where VAQ-136 flew the EA-6B and now VAQ-141 flies the EA-18G.
Farr also noted Farina’s support during many contingency operations as well as combat operations during eight presidential administrations. Naval Aviation operations included support of Arab/Israeli conflicts, Mayaguez, Iranian hostage, Libyan Freedom of Navigation engagements, former Republic of Yugoslavia/Serbia, and today's continuing conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.
As site leader these four decades, Farina has promoted the transition and enthusiastically attended over 200 CVWP ceremonies including the Change of Command for 24 Electronic Attack Wing commanders, 32 VAQ-129 Fleet Replacement Squadron commanding officers and numerous Fleet squadron commanding officers. He was also involved in the planning and execution of the EA-6B Prowler Sundown celebration, marking the end of an era in AEA.
“No AEA squadron has missed an operation or combat sortie during his four decade watch,” said Estes.