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Essay Winners win Opportunity to Shadow AIRLANT’s Force Master Chief for the Day

by Jennifer Cragg
24 January 2024 Two students from Advanced Technology Center’s (ATC) Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering course in Virginia Beach, who submitted essays on what their Navy means to them, won the first-ever Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT) essay contest. The students were provided an opportunity to join AIRLANT’s Force Master Chief Jimmy W. Hailey III for the day on Jan. 22, to learn more about naval aviation.
240122-N-MY408-1161 NAS OCEANA, VA (Jan. 22, 2024) Connor Robertson (left) and Chase Amos (right), two high school students from Advanced Technology Center’s Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering course in Virginia Beach who submitted essays on what their Navy means to them, observe the flight line of FA-18 E/F Super Hornets at Naval Air Station Oceana with Lt. Joseph Rooney (center), from ______________, a member of the base’s Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 “Gladiators.” (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Daniel Ehrlich)
SLIDESHOW | 3 images | 240122-N-MY408-1161 240122-N-MY408-1161 NAS OCEANA, VA (Jan. 22, 2024) Connor Robertson (left) and Chase Amos (right), two high school students from Advanced Technology Center’s Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering course in Virginia Beach who submitted essays on what their Navy means to them, observe the flight line of FA-18 E/F Super Hornets at Naval Air Station Oceana with Lt. Joseph Rooney (center), from ______________, a member of the base’s Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 “Gladiators.” (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Daniel Ehrlich)


The students, along with ATC Assistant Director, Rashida Moore-Williams, visited Naval Air Station (NAS) Oceana to meet with leadership, the pilots and air crew of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 and to participate in simulator training.

The students also recently competed in a Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME) Boat Design Competition, which was hosted by Newport News Apprenticeship School. The students will expand their design skills and design aircraft later this year by utilizing Computer-Aided Drafting & Design (CADD).

Following the boat design competition, Jim Reich, Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering teacher, coordinated a tour aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) in November to expand his students’ learning about naval aviation. The idea for the essay contest stemmed from the visit aboard the aircraft carrier.

“All the students who completed the essay contest seemed to have really taken the time to try and write something the Navy would be proud of,” Reich said. “This has been a fun project and thank you for letting my class be the first to do this essay contest.”

Hailey, who assumed the responsibility as AIRLANT’s 20th Force Master Chief in April 2023, praised Reich for the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) hands-on training he has provided his students for the past 20 years.

“I am extremely impressed with the caliber of knowledge and interest in the U.S. Navy that the students conveyed in their essays,” Hailey said. “Although they have already engaged in some very insightful projects, I look forward to expanding their awareness of the Navy and educating them about the vital role that naval aviation provides in the defense of our nation.”

Chase Amos, one of the students who was were selected, discussed how his grandfather influenced his interest in the Navy, naval architecture and flying and to him the Navy means everything to him.

“The Navy has played a significant role in my life and has been the real driving force behind my fight for success,” Amos said, who added that he started chasing his goals by first learning about the principles of flight. “This pursuit brought me to where I am now at the Advanced Technology Center, where I am constantly seeking to gain knowledge. Just about anything to get me closer to my goal of flying in the military or building planes for them.”

The second essay winner, Connor Robertson, focused his essay on the people aspect of the Navy and their important role.  

“Everyone is an individual who puts their personalities, differences, and beliefs aside for the greater good of their respective country; this is something we rarely witness these days,” said Robertson, who is a senior and is looking toward graduation this summer and beginning his future.

In Robertson’s essay he also thanked his Naval Architecture & Ocean Engineering teacher for inspiring him to reach toward his goals. 

“It makes me proud knowing I live in a country with a force like this, the people involved in the Navy who I’ve met have given me a different outlook on many aspects of my life,” Robertson said. “Without them, I don’t know what I’d be doing today. I thank the Navy for this.”

AIRLANT is responsible for seven nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, 54 aircraft squadrons, 1,200 aircraft, 52,000 officers, and enlisted and civilian personnel. AIRLANT’s priorities are focused on warfighting, people, and readiness by developing combat ready, and sustainable naval air forces with the right personnel, properly trained and equipped, for operational excellence, interoperability, safety, and efficient resourcing.
 
 
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