CORPUS CHRISTI (NNS) -- Three Navy officers assigned to Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) in Corpus Christi, Texas, helped broaden future career prospects of students at a local school, Jan. 31.
The group visited Incarnate Word Academy (IWA) in Corpus Christi as part of an annual career day designed to showcase a range of workforces from police and environmental scientists to pilots and naval parachutists.
Cmdr. Marcus Dodd, CNATRA training and standardization officer, Lt. Cmdr. Jason Fogle, CNATRA naval flight officer pipeline training officer, and Lt. Michelle Tucker, CNATRA public affairs officer, met with more than 40 students at IWA’s elementary and Montessori schools.
“Career day inspires students at Incarnate Word to dedicate themselves to their studies and see that hard work can lead to an exciting career,” said Claudia Ribalka, assistant principal.
Dodd, from Ocala, Florida, explained the extensive training naval aviators must undergo in order to earn their “Wings of Gold” and continue their training to become jet pilots. Neither aviator said they knew, going through college, their careers would be in naval aviation. Fogle, from Rome, New York, was a criminology major at Penn State University and went on to become a radar intercept officer for the F-14 Tomcat fighter aircraft and a weapons system officer for the F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft. Dodd was an economics major at North Carolina State University and said he decided to join the Navy to pursue pilot training. In the fleet, he flew the EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft.
“We were honored to be invited and excited to share our Navy experiences with these students,” said Dodd. “We were impressed with the quality of questions and the depth of interest these students expressed.”
Students had the opportunity to see what it takes to get a jet onto an aircraft carrier by examining a piece of arresting wire and a hand-held remote used by landing signal officers. Fogle demonstrated how pilots gear up for their flights in a g-suit.
Tucker enlisted in the Navy as a mass communication specialist. She designated as a Naval Parachutist in 2008 and spent three years with the Navy Parachute Team. Tucker also served with Fleet Combat Camera Pacific before attending Officer Candidate School in 2014.
“Any job you can have in the civilian world, you can have in the Navy,” said Tucker. “On a ship, there are people making food, repairing equipment, washing clothes, and also landing and launching aircraft. Everyone works together as a team to support each other and to protect our country.”
The students listened intently as each officer told their story, from childhood hobbies and interests to their Navy career to date, all underscoring the value of teamwork in accomplishing the mission.
“Being a pilot is a cool job that kids just love,” said Ribalka. “It’s so important for our female students to see women in the military, as well.”
CNATRA, headquartered in Corpus Christi, trains the world's finest combat quality aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in the right numbers, and at the right cost to a naval force that is where it matters, when it matters.
For more news from Chief of Naval Air Training, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnatra/.