Navy base gets new leadership

Capt. Gregory Jay Johnston  - Courtesy photo
Capt. Gregory Jay Johnston
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Beginning this Friday, Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will be under new leadership as commanding officer Capt. Gerral David is headed for new waters and a new command.

David, who has been at the helm since relieving former base commander Capt. R. Sydney Abernethy in July of 2007, is leaving to become the commanding officer of Naval Support Activity in Monterey, Calif.

He will be officially relieved by Capt. Gregory Jay Johnston in a formal ceremony at Haviland Hangar, Aug. 13. The event is by invitation only.

According to an Aug. 10 press release, Johnston hails from Durham, N.C. He is a 1983 graduate of North Carolina State University with a bachelor of science degree in computer science and received his commission through Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1985. He was designated a naval aviator in June 1986.

Johnston has completed multiple tours, from flying A-6E Intruders at Attack Squadron (VA) 42 out of Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia, to flying EA-6B Prowlers at Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 and VAQ-141’s “Shadowhawks” on Whidbey Island.

According to the release, Johnston also spent time in Washington, D.C., working for the Office of Chief of Naval Operations and with the Joint Mortuary Operations Center. His most recent position was with the U.S. Joint Forces Command J7, Joint Warfighting Center as the Chief of the Training Development Group, Programs Division.

Johnston has logged over 5,000 flight hours, has flown 236 combat missions, and has received at least 22 medals and awards for his service.

Johnston is being welcomed with open arms, but he may have big shoes to fill. Under David’s leadership, NAS Whidbey has been named the No. 1 naval air station in the entire Navy the past two years. And just last year, the base won the Department of Defense’s Pollution Prevention Award.

David has also developed a reputation for being exceptionally community minded as well, Oak Harbor Mayor Jim Slowik said.

From helping local nonprofit organizations, such as the Whidbey Animals’ Improvement Foundation and the PBY Memorial Foundation, set up locations and facilities on the Seaplane Base to allowing the city to open the Maylor Point Trail, David proved himself a great asset to the Oak Harbor community, Slowik said.

“It was Capt. David who was able to move these things forward and I think we need to give him credit,” Slowik said.

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