Read Captain Matt Arny's farewell message below.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - RELEASE 21-051
July 6, 2021
Fair winds and Farewell
NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – I’m filled with conflicting emotions as I prepare to “depart the pattern” and embark on a new journey. I’m excited for what lies ahead, yet grateful for what I have experienced here.
The United States Navy has been part of my entire life. Growing up as the son of a Navy officer, I knew from an early age what I wanted to do and followed that dream. My career and my life is intrinsically linked with the Navy. Even with all the uprooting of constant moves and painful separations from family, I can honestly say without hesitation I’d have wanted it no other way. My life in and around the Navy has been immensely rewarding, with the culmination of all that as the commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) and Commander of the Northwest Training Range Complex (NWTRC).
A significant part of that is due to the people I have met, come to know and work with, active duty and civilian. As commanding officer, I have seen first-hand the diligence and dedication of the people who work here. We often use the term “Team Whidbey” to describe the culture here, and while it may sound cliché to some, it’s a plain reality around the base. I say “around the base” because I consider the local community part of our team. Simply by being here, communicating with us, and working with us, the community is taking part in shaping our national defense. I hope that as our nation’s Independence Day passed recently, everyone in this community was able to reflect on how this unique and special community is a significant part of forming the defense of our entire country and can take pride in that. Our nation still has adversaries in the world who would have our freedoms diminish, but just the existence of capabilities like those we practice here discourage those threats from gaining momentum.
I realize there are folks living here who express opposition to our flight operations. We understand that and we do what we can to alleviate impacts from noise while we all support the real-time needs of our national defense mission. Even so, we invest considerable time and energy into monitoring, reviewing and communicating about people’s concerns regarding aircraft noise, with daily review of all complaints to ensure we stay within FAA regulations and standard operating procedures.
While Team Whidbey is strongly mission-focused, we go above-and-beyond anywhere we reasonably can to support our shared community. For example, while there is no legal requirement for air stations to establish and maintain a noise complaint system, we chose to put forward the additional expense and effort to implement our current system, and continually try to improve it. The complaint line helps to identify those rare occasions where pilots may unintentionally deviate from standard flight procedures. It’s also worth noting that even though publicly sharing our weekly flight schedule as we do has been controversial within the Navy due to operational security concerns, we successfully negotiated within our Navy community to continue to do so out of a desire to help our community here with their planning needs. Ultimately, actions like these that I have fought to keep at NASWI, help us work together to minimize the effects of noise across our neighboring communities while we, as a community, support our nation’s defense.
I am profoundly grateful to NASWI personnel and to the local community for all the support my family and I have received since we arrived. The splendor of the area and the hospitality of the local people are simply remarkable. I will cherish my time as the commanding officer of this incredible air station, and I have the utmost confidence Team Whidbey will continue to work together to defend our nation and thrive together as I pass command to my successor. I know he and his family will receive the same consideration and welcome as he assumes command July 9.
Thank you for your part in keeping our country safe and I hope to see you in the future.
CAPT Matt Arny
NAS Whidbey Island