Naval Aviation Memorial Chapel Marks 50th Jubilee

Story Number: NNS110419-12Release Date: 4/19/2011 2:50:00 PM
A  A  A   Email this story to a friend   Print this story
By Joy Samsel, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Marking their jubilee, the chapel community aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, announced April 18, they will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Naval Aviation Memorial Chapel in May.

The event coincides with the Navy's celebration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation.

The chapel was dedicated on May 14, 1961, and the 50th anniversary events will take place May 13-15.

"Back in 1961 the Navy was honoring the 50th anniversary of Naval Aviation, and the Naval Aviation Memorial Chapel was dedicated here at NAS Pensacola, the birthplace of Naval Aviation," said Cdr. David Gibson, command chaplain for the air station. "Back then, NAS was the home of the Aviation Officer Candidate School, and I'm told by people who were here that the students marched into the chapel, and every pew was filled.

A Catholic mass was held earlier in the morning to dedicate the Our Lady of Loretto Chapel, named for the patron saint of fliers, which is also part of the building. The Italian aviators who were training here at NASP at that time raised the funds to build the Our Lady of Loretto Chapel."

Special events planned for the jubilee weekend include a concert at 7 p.m. Friday, May 13, featuring dueling organs and a selection of classical music. On Saturday, 14 May at 1 p.m., the chapel will host a renewal of marriage vows for any and all couples who were married over the past 50 years.

"Families are an important part of our military," Gibson said. "The support, dedication and love of our families give military members the strength to succeed in the most difficult situations. They are our anchors, and that bond begins with their marriage vows. What better way to celebrate that incredible union, than to rededicate their lives together. We are inviting couples who were married at the Naval Aviation Memorial chapel to return and renew their vows."

Gibson says the hope is to fill the pews with couples, while a special couple will make the ceremonial walk up the aisle. The first couple who were married at the chapel has marked their calendar and will return to Pensacola.

"John (J.R.) and Sharon Arthur are a wonderful couple and were long time residents in Pensacola following his retirement from the Navy," Gibson said. "They now live in Washington, D.C. but will be returning for the May 14 event."

The regular Catholic and Protestant services on Sunday, May 15 will complete the jubilee weekend, with former NASP Command Chaplain, Capt. Jerry McNabb speaking in the Protestant Worship service at 10:15 a.m.

For more information on these events, contact Mary Williams, at (850)452-2341 or

For more information about NAS Pensacola, visit

For more news from Naval Education and Training Command, visit

Navy Social Media
Sign up for email updates To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please click on the envelope icon in the page header above or click here.