This letter is a general rebuttal to recent local-area anti-Growler messaging and specific response to the “Growler Expansions Have Consequences” letter to the editor in the May 22 Whidbey News-Times.
In many respects, the “Consequence” letter was an unvarnished glimpse into the temperament and disposition of the current activist group. It was not a comment about the Navy.
From the letter, like the NAS Oceana/Virginia Beach “model” [the Navy, via Accident Potential Zones] “would end community life in Coupeville and Central Whidbey.”
The Town of Coupeville, schools and hospital “would all have to be relocated.” One quarter of Island County’s population “would be forced out and all tourist businesses shut down,” the letter writer suggests.
This “did happen in Virginia Beach,” the writer said.
A visitor to Naval Air Station Oceana would find considerable similarities to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. However, they would not find the odium described above.
Naval aviation at NAS Oceana also dates to World War II. Like Whidbey, Oceana is an archetype of a thriving civilian and military relationship.
The Virginia Beach economy is exceedingly robust. “VA-Beach” is a top tourist destination.
There are flourishing parks, refuges, historical preserves and farms. Schools and medical facilities are excellent, with many in equivalent proximity to Oceana airfields as our own. Plus, like Whidbey, over the decades, nothing has been “devastated” or “eviscerated.”
Comparable to the numerous positive virtues documented for Whidbey, Virginia Beach is considered to be a “best place to live” by U.S. News.
In concert with other messaging against the Navy and Growlers which include, as a “first step … move the Growlers because they’re the loudest and most offensive” and Navy projects don’t fit the region’s values; or, are “committed to removing the EA-18G Growler from the Pacific Northwest,” the Consequences letter states the actual goal straight out — Growler training “must be moved” to somewhere “appropriate.”
This is the authentic heart of the matter: after having moved here, these people feel the Navy should move elsewhere.
The anti-Growler people want all of us to disregard that the most vocal activists are recent arrivals; to forget NAS Whidbey’s 75-year presence; to ignore previous history of much larger carrier-jet inventories, significantly higher flight operations, and even louder jets; to overlook that the Navy has never relinquished its green zoning areas. As well, to discount the OLF’s exceptional representative setting, which is vital to risk mitigation for both new and experienced carrier aviators.
Growler efforts are directly attached to thousands and thousands of young Navy families. These families are some of the most involved, vibrant members of the Whidbey community and are among our most esteemed citizens.
Many personnel experience great hardship to keep their families located here. They consider the finest base in the world to be their home.
However, the current local activist group … several groups having come and gone over the years … wishes to consign these families to some vaguely-defined, remote location, away from anti-Navy sight and hearing, anywhere else but the activists’ new backyards.
Since 1902, the Navy League of the United States is a nonpartisan, worldwide organization.
Steve Bristow, president
Oak Harbor Area Council
Navy League of the United States