Commander, Naval Air Forces (CNAF) hosted a two-day “LEGACY” Summit in Pensacola, Florida from Nov. 1-2, where members of the Naval Aviation community, past and present, engaged in multi-generational mentorship and discussed key leadership topics.
The “LEGACY” initiative advances Sailor-centered focus areas that contribute to Naval Aviation excellence: leadership, education, growth, advocacy, culture and youth outreach.
“The young Sailors entering our Navy today inspire me. I encourage the current generation to serve this nation and sustain the great legacy of Naval Aviation,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic. “Events like ‘LEGACY’ offer a forum to develop trust up and down the chain of command and emphasize how each team member of our Naval Aviation enterprise can contribute, engage and lead the Navy to be present-minded and future-focused. As we move into the future and learn from our past, we must never forget the trailblazers who have come before us, and we must continue to empower leaders of tomorrow.”
The “LEGACY” Summit signified the end of the monumental “50 Years of Women Flying in the Navy” events of 2023, featuring trailblazing women aviators Capt. (ret.) Joellen Oslund, Capt. (ret.) Mary Louise Griffin, Capt. (ret.) Kathryn Hire, and Astronaut Sunita Williams.
Adm. Lisa Franchetti, Chief of Naval Operations, and Vice Adm. Sara Joyner, director of force structure, resources and assessment, Joint Staff (J8), recognized the historic milestone in their virtual remarks on the first day of the summit at the National Naval Aviation Museum.
“People are our secret weapon,” Franchetti said. “Whether they’re civilians, whether they’re enlisted, whether they’re officers, whether they’re part of our families; it’s people that make the difference and we need to put them at the center of everything we do.”
Joyner was the first woman to command a strike fighter squadron, VFA-105 “The Gunslingers,” and shared her personal experiences as a woman aviator.
“Man or woman, we all want to contribute to the accomplishment of an important mission,” said Joyner. “The Navy has allowed me to do what I love and serve alongside courageous people. I encourage you to be open to mentors who don’t look like you – either in rank, role, gender or background. As you move into leadership roles, look back and pull others up with you.”
Roughly 300 naval aviators, Sailors, civilians and museum guests attended the opening day session on Nov. 1. Following the virtual remarks from Franchetti and Joyner, presentations highlighted the importance of mentoring the next generation, desegregation in the U.S. armed forces, naval aviation in space, and women’s roles in naval aviation and combat.
The “Women’s Firsts” panel hosted Hire, Oslund and Griffin. When asked to provide advice to women flying or interested in flying for the Navy, Griffin, who was the 12th woman to earn her wings of gold, emphasized the importance of maintaining integrity.
“My advice is never to compromise your personal integrity,” said Griffin. “It’s the only thing you own that no one can take away from you. Never be afraid to maintain your integrity. We all have a job to defend our nation and the Constitution every day – that’s what matters most.”
Lt. Sarah Lykins, a VFA instructor at Training Squadron (VT) 9 and a volunteer at the “LEGACY” Summit, discussed how she spent her first seven years in the Navy without a defined mentor. When she joined Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, with no other female VFA pilots, a male Growler fighter jet training officer offered to be her mentor. This experience is what encouraged her to prompt others to seek mentorship from both men and women within the Naval Aviation community.
“Working in a male-dominated community, where perception is often reality, I felt as though I was afforded fewer opportunities than my male counterparts to be mentored by my senior leadership,” said Lykins. “It wasn’t until my first year in the fleet that a more experienced officer was willing to invest their time to help me build confidence, leadership skills and other essential traits to succeed in our profession.”
Day two of the summit, Nov. 2, open only to active-duty Sailors, provided perspectives and lectures on leadership, policy updates, detailing and health-related topics facing the newest generation of aviators.
Dr. Olenda Johnson, a U.S. Naval War College professor for Strategic Leadership & Leader Development, offered insights on generational impacts within an organization.
“There are many generations in the room today and many ‘firsts’ within these generations,” said Johnson. “You may not feel like you have the power to change Naval Aviation, but the next generation will bring Naval Aviation to new heights. There are boundaries that need to be removed and norms disrupted. You are a part of a generation that is not afraid of change. We need new storylines in our military to ensure decisive victories. The legacies [of those earlier generations] are only secured in our sequels. We stand on the shoulders of legends.”
Ensign Ethan Sohn, a current student naval aviator, shared that “LEGACY” provided a chance to hear from Naval Aviation leadership, past and present, as well as meet new mentors.
“As someone just beginning my journey in Naval Aviation waiting to ‘class up,’ this summit has only made me more excited to be a part of the legacy,” Sohn said. “Meeting and listening to all these pioneers in our community was motivating to me, and I look forward to following in their footsteps and to continue the progress.”
At the conclusion of the summit, Capt. Chandra Newman, CNAF “LEGACY” director, stressed that the “LEGACY” initiative will continue to highlight aviation excellence and the contribution of Naval Aviation Sailors in defense of the nation.
“The purpose of ‘LEGACY’ is to create opportunities for connection, candid conversations, and feedback across ranks and roles,” said Newman. “Our goal is to provide resources for all personnel and ensure that Naval Aviation is a pathway to future opportunity, and that we each become stronger and more capable along the way.”
|Date Posted:||11.06.2023 15:47|
|Location:||SAN DIEGO, CA, US|
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