By Andrew Revelos
Five hard-charging Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP) civilians got a ringside seat to operations at nearby Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River during a special visit Nov. 1. Capt. Michael O’Leary, commanding officer of NSASP, and Command Master Chief Joseph Medina led the tour, which included stops at the tower, close looks at aircraft, watching a plane launch, simulators, the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum and the Naval Test Pilot School. The group was also accompanied by several enlisted Sailors new to the command.
All of the employees were recently recognized by the NSASP for superior performance of duties, but the tour’s purpose was more than just a reward. “[Participants] are nominated by their supervisors as people deserving to come out, but we also want to educate you about the mission of the Navy and the Department of Defense,” said O’Leary.
Understanding how the moving parts of an installation fit together to accomplish the mission is also a matter of morale: every employee and Sailor, no matter how new or junior, has a critical role to play. While day-to-day work has its mundane challenges, it all serves a higher purpose.
O’Leary and Medina both spent long stretches of their careers serving in the naval aviation community and their enthusiasm was clear to participants. “Not only was our tour guide a retired pilot, Captain O’Leary provided history and information, too, while we toured,” said Susan Worthington, MWR marketing director at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Indian Head. “What a great morale booster this trip was!”
Sailors too enjoyed the chance to mingle with civilian peers and see a different side of the Navy. “[NAS Pax River] is very big,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Rina Sok. “The base was massive and it was exciting because they have a lot of things we don’t have in Dahlgren. It was fun.”
One of those things Dahlgren doesn’t have is the rich history of training future astronauts and testing new aircraft at NAS Patuxent River’s Test Pilot School. “If you know anything about the space program, all the Navy and Marine Corps aviators who became astronauts, with the exception of Neil Armstrong… they came through here,” said O’Leary. “All the aircraft we fly today on ship came through Pax River.”
The experience clearly inspired both new employees and folks with many years of service alike.
“It was an honor to be nominated by my supervisor, Corey McCabe, to join Captain O’Leary, CMC Medina, the other chiefs, fellow civilian employees, and Sailors on the field trip to Pax,” said Worthington.