Hawaii is no place for P-8 squadrons
April 29, 2011 · Updated 2:45 PM
A couple of weeks back I attended a presentation by County Commissioner Angie Homola on the possible loss of the P-8 (replacement for the P-3) squadrons to Hawaii. Without boring everyone with the numbers, I will keep this brief.
There is a strong push by the senior senator from Hawaii to move the new P-8 squadrons to a Marine base on Oahu. Here is the rub, the runway in Hawaii is too short (and cannot be extended) to allow the P-8 to take off with a full load of fuel. They will have to land at Hickam Air Force Base to fuel up and then proceed on their mission. There will need to be considerable construction to house the crews and hangars for the planes. It just costs more to house the military in Hawaii.
When you add up the numbers and compare it to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station, the dollars do not justify this move to Hawaii. Whidbey will suffer the loss of approximately 2,000 servicemen and women. This will put huge pressure on our already depressed housing and rental situation, not to the mention the added wear and tear on the P-8, having to take off, land at Hickam AFB, fill the tanks, then take off from Hickam AFB, complete the mission then land again at the Marine base, adding 30 percent to the wear and tear on the plane.
As an Air Force guy I have always struggled with the Navy terminology and have had asked many Navy friends to explain all the lingo (VAQ’s etc). I was so impressed with Commissioners Homola’s presentation; she spoke “Navy” but explained as she went.
I was proud to know that she met with the Chief of Naval Operations for over 40 minutes. She was able to talk his talk. As the wife of a naval officer (P-3 pilot), Commissioner Homola was the right person to lobby the Navy for us. She represented to him the actions taken by herself, Commissioner Price-Johnson and previous Commissioner Dean, changing how the county dealt with homeless veterans and previous Island County actions to be a good neighbor to the Navy with setbacks, zoning, etc.
Apparently from what I have read in the press, for what appears to me to be purely political reasons, Commissioner Homola was either dis-invited on not invited at all to travel with the Oak Harbor group to Washington, D.C. Commissioner Homola was by any measurement the right one for the job.
This makes me wonder if the Republicans in Oak Harbor really care about the base or are more interested in promoting their own. This type of juvenile politics will always be part of life, but it should stop at the county line and all concerned should go forward with the best interest of the county, not the Republican Party, in mind. Shame on them!
Thank you Commissioner Homola for taking the initiative to represent Island County. You made me proud to be from Whidbey Island.
Jay C. Brand