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Tailhook Reunion 2021 Closes With Respect for the Past as Naval Aviation Flies Into the Future

13 September 2021
SPARKS, Nev. - The Tailhook Association’s 2021 symposium—Hook ’21—came to a close on September 12, 2021, ending with a banquet keynoted by U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Samuel J. Paparo. The three-day event featured presentations and dialogue from leaders across Naval Aviation. The convention provided opportunities for naval aviators to discuss the requirements for current readiness and the future force.

In his keynote address, Paparo discussed current challenges. “The future security environment will be the most difficult we have ever faced, complicated by emerging and accessible technologies, the shrinking of distance, and greater speed of high leverage events,” he stated. “The last twenty years have shown us what the ancients knew—that civilization rests on a thin veneer. Now more than ever, Naval Aviation will be an indispensable force to defend our great nation.”

Paparo addressed the theme of Hook ’21, “Recognizing The Vietnam Air Campaign,” by honoring those veterans who served in the that conflict. “For our Vietnam veterans, it is not lessons learned, but lessons earned by your intellect, rigor and energy… your blood, sweat, tears, in your character and in many cases lives,” said Paparo. “These lessons are as powerful today as they have ever been and are taught to every Naval Aviator who walks into our ready room.”

Paparo encouraged all current and future Naval Aviators to honor not only these veterans but all U.S. veterans by rising to meet any and all future challenges. “I call on the next generation of aviators—all of you in this room and in every ready room—to take up the mantel of our ethos against the challenges ahead, wherever on the globe it leads. The nation and Navy need you as much today as our nation needed the heroes in this crowd,” he said.

Adding another highlight to the final day of Hook ’21, the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) command held its annual winging ceremony. Rear Adm. Robert Westendorff, Chief of Naval Air Training, presided over the ceremony. The CNATRA graduates honored at the ceremony were: Capt. Liam Suttlehan, U.S. Marine Corps; Lt. j.g. Michael Johnson, U.S. Navy; and Lt. j.g. Trent Compton, U.S. Navy. These graduates will join their squadrons as the fleet’s newest Naval Aviators, with Suttlehan going to Attack Squadron (VFA) 125 to fly the F-35C and both Johnson and Compton going to VFA-106 to fly F/A-18E/Fs.

Westendorff praised the accomplishments of these graduates saying, “I believe that during Hook 2071, those future Naval Aviators will be honoring all your contributions to Naval Aviation.”

To learn more about the Hook ’21 event, visit https://www.dvidshub.net/news/404984/tailhook-day-2-features-aviation-flag-panel-naval-aviation-leaders-offer-answers-training-and-readiness for an article on the previous day’s events.

For additional coverage, follow the NAE on Facebook @NAEready and on Twitter @NAE_Readiness.

The Tailhook Symposium is an annual event run by the Tailhook Association— an independent, nonprofit organization supporting aircraft carrier and other sea-based aviation.

The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a collaborative warfighting partnership where Naval Aviation leaders leverage their assigned authorities to deliberate and resolve interdependent issues across the whole of Naval Aviation to provide combat ready naval air forces to the fleet.

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