Earlier this month, members of the Alpha team attended the annual Flight Jacket reception for all current and former naval aviators in the DC area. About every 18 months, the ANA Washington-Anacostia Squadron and Tailhook Washington, DC Ready Room carry out this event to allow for Naval and former Naval personal to connect, mingle, and share stories through their flight jackets.
This year there were about 100 people in attendance, including guest speaker Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker, USN, Commander, Naval Air Forces. He gave a first-hand report on the status of Naval Aviation. Originally from St. Petersburg, Florida, VADM Shoemaker graduated with honors from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in Systems Engineering and then was designated as naval aviator in July of 1984.
Some of Shoemaker’s operational assignments include tours with VA-105, USS Forrestal (CV 59); CVW-3, USS John Kennedy (CV 67); VFA-105, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CV 69), USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75); CVW-17, USS George Washington (CVN 73); CSG 9, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) and CSG 3, USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Shoemaker commanded VFA-105, VFA-106 (F/A-18 FRS), CVW 17, CSG 9 and CSG 3.
The event was for aviators to connect and have the chance to tell their stories through their personal flight jackets. Each jacket and their patches tell the story of an aviator’s career, explaining who the aviator is, and where they’ve served. During the event the Alpha team had a chance to meet some real life heroes and get their stories, as well as learn the history behind each of the squadron patches. Take a look at how some of the naval personal show their individuality with their own patches.
Take a look below to see some of the jackets at the reception, customized by each service member to commemorate their careers.