There is a new man in charge at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Capt. Geoffrey Moore took command of the Pacific Northwest’s only Naval Air Station in a Change of Command ceremony Friday, Feb. 19, replacing Capt. Michael Nortier.
Following the arrival of the official party, the traditional military ceremony began with the Parade of Colors and the National Anthem, sung by AWF2 Arielle Morgan of Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 61 and the opening invocation by Navy Chaplain Marc Diconti.
The audience included members of city and county government officials, U.S. Congressman Rick Larsen, State Senator Barbara Bailey, Pearl Harbor survivor Harold Johnson, members of the Oak Harbor Navy League and many other special guests, former base commanders included.
“It’s always impressive and always good to come back and see what they’re up to,” said retired Capt. Larry Munns, base commander from 1996 to 1999 and husband of Oak Harbor city council member Beth Munns.
As Nortier spoke, he focused on Team Whidbey, saying those two words capture the spirit of the installation. He called out members of team, both military and civilian, for their contributions, such as Ken King, who is the camp host at NAS Whidbey’s Cliffside RV Park.
“Ken put in 35,000 hours of his own time working on landscaping and molding the park,” Nortier said. “He is the perfect example of how one person can make a difference.”
Civilian employee Tony Popp, the base’s assistant public affairs officer who was just honored for 40 years of service to the Department of Defense, was another of the several people Nortier recognized, calling Popp his “go to historian.”
“This is just a small sample of the talent pool at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island,” Nortier told the audience and his successor. “I am absolutely confident you are taking over a great team.”
Nortier thanked the community for its support as well.
“It is the effort of each and every one of you that makes Team Whidbey great,” he said. “And the community has certainly made a difference and has also enabled the success of Team Whidbey.”
Nortier and his family will remain in Oak Harbor following his retirement.
“If you ask our children, they will tell you there is only one place where home is, and that’s Oak Harbor,” he said.
Guest speaker for the event was Rear Adm. Jeffrey Ruth, Commander, Navy Region Northwest, whom Nortier called “the right leader at the right time.”
“This is one of the most complex and vital Navy facilities,” said Ruth. “Its contribution to our national security is significant.”
Ruth praised the successes NAS Whidbey has achieved during Nortier’s time in command, most notably receiving the Navy’s 2016 Installation Excellence Award. As the ceremony also served as Capt. Nortier’s retirement ceremony, Ruth issued his thanks.
“Your focus, enthusiasm, passion, devotion, keen insight and honesty will be missed,” said Ruth. “Thank you for doing a superior job.”
He also praised NAS Whidbey’s new leader.
“It is Whidbey Island’s good fortune the Navy has sent one of its highest quality here,” he said of Capt. Moore. “I am confident in your ability to carry out this mission.”
Moore, the 39th commanding officer of NAS Whidbey Island, takes over at an important time, as the final phase of preparations are underway for the transition from the P-3C Orion aircraft to the P-8A Poseiden.
“I stand before you truly humbled at the opportunity to work with each and every one of you, to continue the success of our base and our community by continuing the success of the relationships that Skipper Nortier and previous commanding officers have built and sustained,” Moore said.
Moore comes from Middletown, Conn. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 and was designated a Naval Aviator in 1994. He said he is looking forward to the challenges ahead of him.
“We will continue the vision of one team, operating as one family, focused on one single and immensely important mission – to be ready to answer the call of our civilian leadership to fight and win our nation’s wars.”