ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Air Forces visited the U.S. Naval Academy in Annaoplis to participate in the aviation community assignment dinner and reception Jan. 14.
Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker (USNA '82) addressed the 320 first-class midshipmen who were selected for service assignment in the naval aviation community and offered advice and insight about the expectations for the midshipmen in the future, as well as what they have to look forward to in the future of naval aviation.
"The future is bright," said Shoemaker. "All of our aviation platforms have transitioned from legacy into something that is very new, very modern, and there are amazing opportunities in every community. It's impressive how capable our platforms are, and all are integrated as we look at our warfighting capabilities moving forward. I think it's very exciting."
While in Annapolis, Shoemaker met with Academy Superintendent Vice Adm. Ted Carter in Larson Hall as well as other pilots from the Naval Academy staff.
The assignment dinner is an annual event that provides midshipmen the opportunity to meet the Navy's senior aviation officers and be welcomed into the community.
The Naval Academy Class of 2016 received their service assignments Nov. 19, a milestone that put them one step closer to joining the fleet and Marine Corps as commissioned officers.
The midshipmen selected for naval aviation represent a little less than one third of the class. The Naval Academy is the largest accession source for new aviators in the Navy, with academy grads typically representing 38 percent of the aviation students in Pensacola, Florida, at any one time.
"I knew I wanted to fly during my firstie aviation cruise at HSM-40 in Mayport, Florida," said Midshipman 1st Class Josh Mokracek. "The squadron was a very tight knit group and both the senior and junior officers were very welcoming. We had the opportunity to go on several flights, including some front seat time, actually getting to fly the helicopter. I was hooked."
Shoemaker urged the midshipmen to work hard in flight school as it forms the foundation of their entire career.
"Performance is what drives everything so as you study hard and work hard in flight school, it gives you opportunities and options," he said. "Stay focused while you're down there and you'll enjoy wherever you end up in the fleet."
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