Editorial: Whidbey base deserves honor

Capt. Syd Abernethy and all the personnel at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station are fully deserving of the prestigious award that was announced last week.

NAS Whidbey is the recipient of the 2006 Commander in Chief’s Annual Award for Military Excellence, as announced by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield. Simply put, the award means the Whidbey base is the best U.S. Navy installation in the world.

During the ongoing war on terror, NAS Whidbey’s mission is generally conducted out of the public eye. But its accomplishments have been remarkable to even the casual observer.

Squadrons are continually coming home from doing their duty in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere. Their record of successful missions is amazing, as is their safety record. Air crews, maintenance personnel, and those involved in hunting down the enemy or disarming their roadside bombs display incredible courage, stamina and dedication to their country. Those who stay home and await their return also serve admirably, putting country before self and family.

Their accomplishments would not be possible without the training and safety stressed at NAS Whidbey. The 8,880 men and women stationed there seem 100 percent dedicated to doing things right, which is a testament to the leadership. Whidbey’s Prowler squadrons make American air superiority possible, and the long-range P-3 Orions gather intelligence essential to the nation’s safety. Civilians no doubt can’t even imagine the skills and endless work necessary to keep these planes flying and coming home safely in this seemingly endless war.

The Award for Military Excellence ceremony will take place May 5 in Washington, D.C. When Capt. Abernethy accepts NAS Whidbey’s award it will be well deserved, and he should know that the folks back home couldn’t be more proud.

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