JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Naval Air Station Jacksonville (NAS Jax) kicked off the Centennial of Naval Aviation (CoNA) with a historical ceremony Jan. 26.
The event began as NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Maclay presented several awards to NAS Jax Sailors, and welcomed station personnel.
"We are here this morning to begin the year-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of naval aviation and to commemorate our station's unique contributions to naval aviation and national security," said Maclay. "This is our opportunity to show off our rich heritage, traditions and legacy that our forefathers accomplished and we continue to carry it out daily.
"You'll see a steady drumbeat of events this year to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation including the African-American History Month event with our special guest, Jamal Knight, the grandson of the first African-American Naval Aviator, Ens. Jesse Brown, who received his wings of gold here in 1948. For Women's History Month in March, we will bring in Naval Aviator and Astronaut Capt. Kathryn Hire as our guest speaker. And, of course, our high-water mark will be the 2011 NAS Jax/Centennial of Naval Aviation Air Show, the first week in November. It's going to be a great year," said Maclay.
Maclay then displayed a photo of the first naval aircraft to arrive at NAS Jax, Jan. 16, 1940 - the J2F Grumman Duck. He also showed a photo of the station's future aircraft - the P-8A Poseidon Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft which is slated to arrive aboard NAS Jax in 2012.
"We've come a long way from this first aircraft to the future P-8A that will soon line our flightline," said Maclay.
"The Navy-Marine Corps team is the most powerful flexible combat force the world has ever seen," said NAS Jax Command Master Chief (CMDCM)(SW/SS) Jeff Hudson. "That didn't happen automatically overnight, it was based on the sacrifice, dedication and motivation of those who have gone before us, and we need to remember that because a lot of what we do today comes from the lessons of those and the blood shed before us.
"Naval aviation has only been around for 100 years. But I think it's important that we recognize what's been accomplished since then because when naval aviation first began it was never intended to be anything more than a supporting arm of the fleet - reconnaissance and mail runners. And now they are the premier striking element of the Navy. It's absolutely phenomenal what they've accomplished," said Hudson.
Sailors in attendance also received the CoNA decal and a NAS Jax 70th Anniversary Historical pamphlet.
For more news from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, visit www.navy.mil/local/nasjax/.