For many in the local area, these times are uncertain and trying.

I wanted to take a moment to thank our communities for your support of the men and women who serve at Naval Air Station Whiting Field, just eight miles north of Milton. Whiting Field is a part of this wonderful community, and we are all better working together. We have a critical aviation training mission to do, providing aviators to the U.S. Navy fleet, and we are continuing to do that mission even with the challenges of the current pandemic.

We are grateful to all of our community partners for supporting our Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilians and our families. COVID-19 has made us all more aware of those around us, and I would argue, more appreciative of our surroundings.

Last week, I spoke with leaders from the Santa Rosa County Board of Commissioners and the City of Milton, and thanked them and the local citizens in the area. We couldn’t do what we do without you … from local businesses providing food, fuel, groceries and other sustenance, to the well wishes that go out to our people, to places of worship that embrace our men and women, the health care providers who keep our team well--we are thankful for your support.

Our fire and rescue crews that man the outlying landing fields where the aviation training is done around four counties, the security teams that keep our installation and people safe, the air traffic controllers keeping our skies safe, our future aviators — the students and their instructor pilots — all of us are aware that we live and work in a supportive and embracing community.

NAS Whiting Field’s men and women are taking all necessary precautions as recommended by the CDC and Department of Defense to stay healthy and ready to do our mission every day. Even in the midst of these trying times, we have a mission to do and that will continue unabated, while at the same time putting into place all the necessary steps to maintain a healthy force.

Again, we couldn’t accomplish our mission without the help of our community partners. We are grateful to you all. Stay healthy.

Paul D. Bowdich, Captain, U.S. Navy, Commanding Officer, NAS Whiting Field