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Oak Harbor Navy League honors those who serve
Every once in a while, it’s just nice to hear you’re doing a good job.
Members of the Oak Harbor Area Council of the Navy League and the community came together Thursday evening for a military appreciation event at Whidbey Island Bank to honor the men and women of two Naval Air Station Whidbey Island squadrons, the Lancers of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131 and VAQ-134, the Garudas.
“We’re here to provide that hometown flavor,” said Navy League President Jim Slowik. “We want to hear what they’re doing, how they’re doing and we want to make them feel comfortable here in Oak Harbor.”
All appearances seemed to indicate the event was a success, as smiles were in evidence and laughter and chatter filled the bank lobby. Those in attendance from the military said it was nice to feel such appreciation from a community.
“This is something special,” said Cmdr. Rich Knapp, Executive Officer of VAQ-131. “I’ve never seen as close ties between the Navy and the community as I have here in Oak Harbor. It’s allowed me to develop more personal relationships with people.”
“This is unique,” said Tiffany Byers, wife of VAQ-134 Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Gregory Byers.
“I feel so supported by this community,” she said. “That’s why we really like it here — we like seeing the same faces when we go out.”
“It’s great,” agreed Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class James Hoy. The Port Angeles native has been stationed at NAS Whidbey Island for virtually all of his 10 years in the Navy.
“Whidbey Island is a wonderfully supportive community,” he said. “It warms my heart.”
The evening included remarks from Oak Harbor Mayor Scott Dudley, Slowik, Cmdr. Byers and Cmdr. Knapp. Personnel of all ranks from both squadrons mingled with guests including Rep. Barbara Bailey, members of the Oak Harbor City Council, and Whidbey Island Bank President Brian McDonald.
Bruce Van Tassell, of Whidbey Island Bank, said it’s important the community shows its support to the men and women of the Navy.
“We appreciate so much what these people do for us and for the nation,” he said.
That acceptance and appreciation for the military, along with Oak Harbor’s small-town atmosphere, helped make the evening a success.
“I’m originally from Laurel, Mt.,” said Lancers’ Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class Mark Potter. “Oak Harbor has a similar style. It’s more neighborly. You don’t have to worry so much about big city issues. It’s amazing.”