WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet Adm. Scott Swift received the Gray Eagle Award in honor of being the most senior naval aviator on active duty during an aviation breakout session at the Navy Flag Officer and Senior Executive Symposium in Washington, D.C., March 1.
The Gray Eagle Award recognizes Swift's 38 years of naval service having flown the A-7E Corsair II and F-18C Hornet, while also leading at various levels of naval aviation and throughout the Navy.
"I'm not sure that 'Most Ancient Aviator' is how I want to be remembered by naval aviation," joked Swift. "Part of me suspects that this plaque was written by junior officers to not so subtly hint that the admiral needs to stay off the flight schedule and leave the flight hours to them."
"In all seriousness, I'm honored to be named the Gray Eagle and to help celebrate the history and heritage of naval aviation," remarked Swift. "From Aviator No. 1, 'Spuds' Ellyson, to the brave pilots that fought to victory 75 years ago at Coral Sea and Midway, to our young student naval aviators in the training pipeline today, naval aviators continue to serve our Navy and our nation with pride, distinction, and a healthy respect for the untiring laws of gravity. I am honored to still count myself among this august group."
The Gray Eagle Award is a trophy which resembles an eagle landing on the deck of the Navy's first aircraft carrier, USS Langley (CV 1). Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson presented the award to Swift. The former Gray Eagle Award holder was retired Adm. Bill Gortney, who held the award October 18, 2014 until March 1, and was on hand to help pass along the award.
"It was an honor and a privilege to serve as the Gray Eagle, even moreso being a naval aviator in our great Navy," said Gortney. "I miss the people and the mission. Admiral Swift will do great as my relief! Fly safe, be lethal!"
In 1960, Chance Vought Aircraft, Inc. -- now Northrop Grumman Corporation -- proposed the trophy design with the inscription "In recognition of a clear eye, a stout heart, a steady hand, and a daring defiance of gravity and the law of averages." The name of each recipient and the dates of the title the award was held are also engraved on the trophy.
The senior Navy or Marine Corps aviator maintains the title of Gray Eagle until the member retires and a new recipient is named from the official precedence list of prospective Gray Eagles, maintained by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
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