By Capt. Chad P. Vincelette
Commanding officer, Naval Air Station Oceana
Victory in World War II remained in doubt when the U.S. Navy commissioned something it desperately needed 75 years ago – an East Coast Navy base to prepare aviators to fight.
Naval Auxiliary Air Station Oceana was born on Aug. 17, 1943, out of a need for aviators to work up for deployments away from the crowded Naval Air Station Norfolk, where airspace and airfield facility restrictions was an issue for tactical flying units.
Known at the time as Potter’s Farm, about 328 acres of land belonging to John W. and Dean S. Potter was purchased for $35,000 in 1940. Considered remote at the time, Oceana was the perfect location for an auxiliary field. The town’s only industry being a sawmill operation, three or four small food stores, a restaurant, three gas stations and a post office within one of the food stores.
Fast forward 75 years, and not only is Virginia Beach and surrounding area a vibrant tourist destination, the men and women of what is now Naval Air Station Oceana are still accomplishing that original mission – preparing aviators to fight.
The team at NAS Oceana is also a key contributor to the Chief of Naval Operations’ Four Lines of Effort for maintaining maritime superiority – focusing on warfighting, achieving high-velocity learning at every level, strengthening our One Navy Team for the future and expanding and strengthening our network of partners.
The more than 10,000 Sailors and 5,800 civilian employees are the lifeblood of Oceana’s contribution to these Four Lines of Effort, and are directly responsible for training our aviators and maintaining the world’s most capable and lethal naval aircraft.
NAS Oceana and its outlying Naval Auxiliary Landing Field Fentress in Chesapeake are the backbone of our east coast naval air forces, conducting, on average, more than 100,000 air operations a year.
Oceana is the sole East Coast master jet base. Its carrier air wings and strike-fighter squadrons have quick and easy access to the most advanced flight simulators and world-class intermediate aircraft maintenance facilities. And our aviators are only minutes away from the 94,000 square miles of offshore air-to-air combat training ranges and NALF Fentress for carrier landing practice. This proximity maximizes the amount of training that our Navy can achieve with each gallon of jet fuel.
When deployed, our air wing and squadron personnel can be confident that their families are safe and taken care of. They have access to Oceana’s outstanding support services, provided by Fleet and Family Services, the childcare center, NEX and commissary, religious ministries, and MWR and youth programs.
Plus, there is the great quality of life that Hampton Roads offers: Affordable housing, fantastic schools, a strong economy and access to outstanding recreational venues.
None of this would be possible without the commitment and support of the community and the invaluable partnerships with the State of Virginia and cities of Virginia Beach and Chesapeake. They are truly our shipmates when it comes to fulfilling the important mission of NAS Oceana.
If you go by the past performance and history, I believe NAS Oceana will continue to play a vital role in the future readiness of our Navy and the overall defense of our nation. Happy birthday to the men and women of NAS Oceana!