Capt. Geoff Moore, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island for the last two and a half years, will be moving on in mid August. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Capt. Geoff Moore, commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island for the last two and a half years, will be moving on in mid August. Photo by Laura Guido/Whidbey News-Times

Base commander prepares to head to Washington, D.C.

‘It’s been an exciting time’

After two and a half years at the helm of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, the skipper is getting ready to move on in his career.

“It’s a short time and a long time altogether,” said Capt. Geoff Moore, commanding officer for NAS Whidbey.

“A lot of change here at the base, a lot of transitions … It’s been an exciting time.”

Moore’s tenure was highlighted by the arrival of the first P-8 Poseidon as the base moves to upgrade from the P-3 Orion aircraft. He celebrated NAS Whidbey’s 75th anniversary and attended a concert put on by Gary Sinise’s Lt. Dan Band, but he said his favorite moments have been day-to-day interactions with the people here.

“That’s what makes this place so special,” Moore said. “Great people doing their daily work — doing it with focus and great capability.”

Moore inherited an award-winning base, and it continued to earn the Navy’s Installation Excellence Award twice over three years. He attributes its consistent success to the quality of leadership by the chiefs and the “symbiotic” relationship with the community.

He said the support of the mayors and chambers of commerce in Oak Harbor and Coupeville, the school districts and other community organizations help the sailors to perform optimally.

NAS Whidbey sailors’ volunteerism with organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club, Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Garage of Blessings and others make the relationship mutually beneficial, he said.

“Our people understand that to make a better community, they need to be out there and active in it,” Moore said.

Not all island residents are 100 percent supportive of the base’s operations. The controversy over noise from Growler touch-and-go operations has continued, with more outcry sparked by a recent proposed increase in practice at Outlying Field Coupeville.

Moore said as the “preferred alternative” is explored and the environmental impact statement is completed public attitudes will be considered, but some conflict is unavoidable.

“We’re an airport, we have loud aircraft,” he said, “… we work extremely hard to ensure we get the training that we need and to do it with as minimal impact to all the communities around us within our operating area.”

The base will continue to add and improve facilities to accommodate the P-8 and operations with the unmanned MQ-4C Triton. He said there will also be updates to facilities to support military dependents and potentially a new health clinic.

As technology and warfare evolves, he said there will be a consistent focus on keeping training and facilities up-to-date. The importance of NAS Whidbey within the Navy as a whole remains unquestionable. he said.

“We’ll be here another 75 years and our future is bright,” he said.

As for Moore’s future, it lies in “the other Washington” where he will be the new chief of staff for the Naval District in D.C. He and his wife Sue and their two children will be leaving town some time after the change of command on Aug. 17.

Moore will be succeeded as base commander by Capt. Matt Arny.

Moore said he’s going to miss “the people and the views” the most.

“I’ll never live in a place that has better views.”

“It truly is special,” he said of NAS Whidbey.

“The awards capture that, but I think this is really a unique place to be associated with, and I am just so honored to be a shipmate and a teammate to everybody else here who serves and has served here.”

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