NAS Whiting Field Press Release #18-10, June 1, 2018
Cmdr. Jim Brownlee became the Executive Officer of Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton, Florida on Monday, May 15, following an already distinguished career in Naval Aviation.
Brownlee was born in 1970 in Upper Black Eddy, Pennsylvania, a small town on the Delaware River where he spent much of his youth boating and fishing up and down the river.
“Not much has changed in town over the years,” Brownlee said, whose parents still live in the house they bought just after he was born. “When I visit, it really is like coming home.”
As a child, Brownlee was given his first exposure to flying in a Cessna by his parents, Rita and Art Brownlee.
“It was my mom, sister and me along with the flight instructor,” Brownlee said. “I got to sit in the front seat and from that point on I wanted to fly.”
After high school, Brownlee attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Airway Science Management in 1994. The degree required Brownlee to earn his professional pilots license, giving him a greater taste of life in the cockpit, and leaving him wanting more.
“Aviation was what drew me to the Navy,” Brownlee said, who by then had solid
knowledge and experience in the profession to build upon.
Brownlee joined the United States Navy after college, reporting to NAS Pensacola for Aviation Officer Candidate School in 1995. After commissioning as an Ensign, Brownlee reported to NAS Corpus Christi, Texas to fly the T-34C Mentor II in Training Squadron Twenty- Eight (VT-28), followed by NAS
Whiting Field, Florida to fly the TH-57 Sea Ranger in Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT- 8).
Brownlee earned his Wings of Gold as an Unrestricted Naval Aviator onboard NAS Whiting Field in 1998, and learned to fly the MH-53 Sea Dragon at Marine Helicopter Training Squadron 302 (HMT-302), Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) New River, North Carolina. At that time, the Navy had a detachment assigned to HMT-302. “Although we were on a Marine base at a Marine squadron, we flew with Navy instructors,” Brownlee said.
Following HMT-302, Brownlee learned tactics and warfare at AMCM Weapon Systems Training School (AWSTS) before reporting to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Four (HC-4), NAS Sigonella, Italy in April, 1998.
His time at Sigonella was an especially memorable one in Brownlee’s career, and he encourages others to take advantage of the opportunities and life experiences their careers present.
“Get out and experience as much of the culture as you can,” Brownlee suggests.
Brownlee spent a tour of duty in HC-3, in San Diego, California, as a flight instructor and onboard the USS Nassau (LHA-4) as the safety officer. He
returned to HC-4, Norfolk, Virginia as a department head until the squadron was deactivated in 2007, and he was transferred to HSC-2.
“San Diego was my first instructor tour,” Brownlee reminisced of his time in HC-3. “It’s where I realized how much I enjoyed being a flight instructor, directly impacting the students coming through the Fleet Replacement Squadron. Training the next generation of aviators just prior to them going to their first operational tour was very rewarding.”
Brownlee spent a significant portion of the past decade in Norfolk, working on NATO-level strategic planning, serving in Carrier Strike Group 12, earning a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in 2008, deploying on the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) for the ship’s final deployment, and then transferring to Tactical Training Group Atlantic in nearby Naval Station (NS) Dam Neck, Virginia.
“Working with all the NATO nations was eye opening,” Brownlee said. “As one of the most successful alliances in history, it was incredible to experience working with such a vast number of countries with vastly different cultures.”
In January 2018, Brownlee reported to NAS Whiting Field as the prospective executive officer, where he began training for the command position, as well as requalifying in the TH-57.
Brownlee has two goals for himself as the Executive Officer of NAS Whiting Field — to effectively lead and support the Sailors and civilians he works with, and to find a way to leave the base even better than the CNIC award winning installation that it is today.
“NAS Whiting Field is a great place to work. I’m very proud to be here,” Brownlee said.
NAS Whiting Field Press Release #18-08, May 10, 2018
Lt. j.g. Payden Roberts of Jay, Florida, formerly of Milton, Florida, earned his Wings of Gold onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in a ceremony on Friday, April 27.
Roberts, who said both towns hold a special place in his heart, is deeply rooted in the areas surrounding NAS Whiting Field. Roberts and his family lived in Milton for most of his childhood, where he attended the Pensacola Christian Academy, Bagdad Elementary School and Avalon Middle School. After sixth grade, they moved north to the small town of Jay, where Roberts graduated from Jay High School.
“Technically, I could call Milton my hometown,” Roberts said. “But I most often say Jay. It’s where my immediate family still lives and where I would say I really ‘grew up’ the most. Plus, it’s almost a conversation piece. Since no one knows where it is, I get to tell them about it.”
Roberts lived the classic, small-town-America childhood of close-knit friendships, town pride, and baseball. “I do love where I grew up and where I’m from,” Roberts said. “The relationships are really what attach me to this place. Even after moving, I am still able to keep in touch with my friends from Milton and Pace, mostly through baseball.”
But living just west of the busiest airspace in the world is a severe departure from classic small town America. Roberts says there is no wonder where the idea to fly for the Navy originated. Roberts hardly went a day without thinking about aviation, between the Blue Angels ripping through the sky, numerous visits to the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, a week at Starbase Atlantis onboard NAS Whiting Field in fifth grade, and his family home being located directly under the T6-B Texan II course-rules for formation flights.
“I have been watching the orange and white planes and helicopters fly over my head my entire life,” Roberts said. “It’s always been my dream.”
Yet, there was an even stronger contributor to Roberts’ decision. “Just as much or more influence came from my family’s prior service,” he said.
Nine members of Roberts’ immediate and extended family are serving or have served the nation through military service, in the ranks of the Navy, Marine Corp, Air Force, Army and Coast Guard. With representation in all military branches, Roberts could have claimed family tradition in any one. But he was especially drawn to the Navy, following the steps of his grandfather, retired Lt. Cmdr. Joel Roberts Sr.
“The person who really sparked my interest in all of this, and the Navy in general, was my grandfather on my father’s side,” Roberts said. “He served 30 years in the Navy, enlisting and then earning his commission through Officer Candidate School.”
Robert’s grandfather passed away when Roberts was eleven, but his family had a surprise for him after the winging ceremony. “I remember always asking him to show me his sword, which I thought was so cool. Unbeknownst to me, my father actually found my grandfather’s 57-year-old sword and cleaned it up,” Roberts said. He was then presented the sword as a gift, following a Navy tradition. “It was a pretty emotional moment, as both family and tradition are very important to me.”
Roberts was pinned at the ceremony by his father, Joel Roberts Jr., and was joined on stage by his mother, Laurie Roberts, sister, Jescie Roberts, girlfriend, Emily Dobson, and his mother’s father, Army veteran Harvey Beard.
Like a number of other local natives who recently earned their wings at NAS Whiting Field, Roberts did not immediately pursue a career in the military through the Naval Academy or the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Unable to pursue another passion – baseball, Roberts spent his freshman year at the University of West Florida studying business administration.
“It pained me knowing that I definitely had the skill to play baseball at the collegiate level,” Roberts said. “I didn’t really know how college baseball
Lt. j.g. Payden Roberts (right) is pinned with his Wings of Gold by his father, Joel Roberts Jr., at the Winging Ceremony presided by Capt. Kent Everingham, Commanding Officer United States Coast Guard Station San Francisco (left) onboard NAS Whiting Field on Friday April 27, 2018. Photo by Lt. j.g. Luke Rague, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs Staff.
‘worked’ at the time, but by the time I knew what was going on as far as recruiting and trying out, the time had already passed to go to some of those smaller colleges I was most interested in.”
But he kept practicing, dragging friends out to the Jay baseball field throughout the summer after freshman year in an effort to keep his skills sharp. After months of hard work, he was offered a baseball scholarship at Emmanuel College in the small town of Franklin Springs, Georgia.
Only after earning a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration in 2015 did he reach out to a local Navy recruiter.
Roberts ended up working with the same recruiter as another recent NAS Whiting Field winger, Lt. j.g. Tyler Mayor of Navarre, Florida. Since recruitment, Roberts and Mayor have followed very similar paths. Both were at Officer Candidate School at the same time, both flew the T6-B in Training Squadron Twenty-Seven (VT-27) in Corpus Christi, Texas, and both earned their Wings of Gold flying the TH-57 Sea Ranger out of Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) within two weeks of each other.
“Going through flight school proved to be mentally, physically, and spiritually challenging,” Roberts said. “As with anything, I’d have good days, and days that may not have been so good. Through this, I feel like I really started to realize what mattered most to me in my life – things such as my faith and my family, things that I really clung to and supported me and helped me push through and strive to be the best that I could be.”
He said his experiences also helped expand his world view and get him ready for life outside small town America. “Being in contact with so many people from different backgrounds and cultures I feel has helped me become more informed on these cultures,” Roberts said. “I know that somewhere down the line, I’ll be able to use these experiences to help me connect with others.”
Roberts’ next move is to NAS Mayport in Jacksonville, Florida for advanced flight training in the MH-60R Seahawk. He will then join his first deployable squadron onboard Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
“I am extremely excited about this opportunity,” Roberts said. “I really embrace the unknown, and with each step I take in this career, I know that I’ll be experiencing something that I never have before. I’ve never been outside of the continental United States, so that will be an awesome experience. Really a dream come true!”
Lt. j.g. Payden Roberts (center right) stands with his family after the Winging ceremony onboard NAS Whiting Field on Friday, April 27, 2018. From left to right: Roberts’ younger sister, Jescie Roberts, father, Joel Roberts Jr., girlfriend, Emily Dodson, mother, Laurie Roberts, and grandfather, Harvey Beard. Photo by Lt. j.g. Luke Rague, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs Staff.
NAS Whiting Field Press Release #18-07, May 9, 2018
An active duty enlisted master-at-arms stationed onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field placed second in the World Kickboxing Association Asian-Pacific Championships, an international K1/Glory style Pro-Am Event at the 3rd International Thai Martial Arts Games & Festival in Bangkok, Thailand on March 12-22, 2018.
Master-At-Arms 2nd Class Sebastian Rivera participated in the Muay Thai competition as a member of Team USA, earning the silver after a loss to teammate Michael Carson. Rivera won his first fight against Italy’s Corrado Rubwo with a second round technical knockout. He then won by forfeit when Bangladesh’s Yahsam Hajih backed out after watching Rivera knockout Rubwo, advancing Rivera to the finals.
Rivera’s trip to Bangkok was the result of years of training and development as a competitive fighter, earning him an invite from Team USA to compete in the pro-am level competition.
Muay Thai has roots in Muay boran, a fighting style that was developed by an eighteenth century Siamese solider named Nai Khanomtom.
Nai Khanomtom was captured by Burmese forces in 1767 and offered the chance to fight in hand-to-hand combat to earn his freedom. Winning the fight, he was released back to Siam where he was treated as a war hero and master martial arts instructor. Muay boran remained loosely structured until it was given official equipment and rules in the 1930s, starting the sport of Muay Thai.
Rivera’s draw to Muay Thai was an unexpected change from his initial goal of a fighting career in the more popular sport of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). “I became interested in Muay Thai because of how unrelenting the sport really is,” he said. “My intentions were to compete in MMA with a solid base in striking, but I fell in love with Mauy Thai and decided to focus strictly on that art.”
Rivera previously spent time training in other martial arts disciplines, studying Jujitsu and Judo. But for the past three and a half years, Rivera has focused almost solely on Muay Thai. He believes it has helped him both professionally and in his personal life.
“Mauy Thai has brought a calmness to my life. Knowing I don’t have to fight every battle, it has helped me with patience as well,” Rivera explained. “Being in the law enforcement field, I think my training will allow me to control many situations if things get physical. It has also allowed me to understand there is really no need to become violent.”
Raised in Cutler Ridge and a graduate of Homestead High School, suburbs of Miami, Rivera has strong roots in the state of Florida. He has participated in local fights in Crestview and he won his first title fight, the International Kickboxing Federation Welterweight Title, July 23, 2017, in Orlando, Florida.
But Rivera is not confining himself to the state of Florida. He has competed throughout the country in the pro-am circuit up and down the East Coast, in New York, Delaware, Virginia and South Carolina.
Still, he was eager to fight and explore new places, especially internationally. So when Team USA gave him the opportunity, he jumped at it. After getting permission from his chain of command and completing an overseas medical screening, Rivera was ready for an experience of a lifetime.
“Thailand was wonderful. I enjoyed the food, how inexpensive everything is, how kind and polite the people are,” Rivera said. “My favorite part of
Thailand was experiencing the fight life. Every single night there was an event where fights were being held, from live national broadcasted events to local stadium events.” The only part of the trip that Rivera didn’t like was leaving.
But he returned with more experience and a better perspective on how to succeed in future competitions. “I realized my actions prepping me for competition, as difficult and exhausting as they already are, need to be improved,” Rivera said. “I am experimenting with my meal plan to promote a well-rounded diet. I have altered my workout plan to focus on my weaker areas. After competing alongside high-level fighters and coaches, and hearing them tell me I have what it takes to make it, I know I have the skillset to go far in this sport.”
The suggestions and encouragement from everyone he trained with are driving Rivera to aim higher and work for invitations from bigger organizations, such as Lions Fight Promotions, Glory Kickboxing, and Bellator Kickboxing.
“Training is always on the agenda. I have my whole year planned out,” Rivera said. “I plan on fighting in Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina, Orlando, South Carolina, Spain and even locally. I would like to turn professional soon, but I will not rush myself.”
Rivera also plans on staying in the Navy. With nine years in already, he plans on serving at least 20 years and pursuing the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) route from enlisted to officer. Either way, he looks forward to future sea duties. “The best time I’ve had in the Navy so far was on deployment,” Rivera said.
Team USA poses together at the World Kickboxing Association Asian-Pacific Championships and 3rd International Thai Martial Arts Games & Festival in Bangkok, Thailand. MA2 Sebastian Rivera (second from right) placed second in the Pro-Am competition, losing to teammate Michael Carson (center). Photo courtesy MA2 Sebastian Rivera.
NAS Whiting Field Press Release #18-06, April 20, 2018
Cmdr. Stephen Audelo turned over command of Helicopter Training Squadron Eight (HT-8) to Cmdr. Jessica Parker on Friday, April 20, 2018 during a change of command ceremony at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola’s Naval Aviation Museum.
HT-8 is the Navy’s oldest currently active helicopter training squadron, which is responsible for flying more than 26,000 flight hours and graduating an estimated 168 Naval aviators every year. Serving as the commanding officer of the squadron represents a pinnacle achievement for Parker, following 18 years of distinguished service.
Parker graduated from the U. S. Naval Academy with a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering in May 2000. She earned her Wings of Gold onboard NAS Whiting Field in February 2002, and reported to Helicopter Combat Support Squadron Three (HC-3), in San Diego, California, for advanced training in the MH-60S Seahawk.
Parker’s first operational assignment was with the HC-5 in Agana, Guam, followed by a return to HC-3 to work as the student control officer, guiding the service’s newest winged aviators.
In September 2004, she transferred across the runway to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 21 (HSC-21). Parker deployed with HSC-21 to the Fifth Fleet area of operations in the Middle East with both the USS Camden (AOE-2) and the USS Peleliu (LHA-5). While aboard the Peleliu, she earned her Officer-of-the-Deck Underway Qualification, a unique accomplishment for aviators.
After HCS-21, Parker served as a flag aid to the Commander, Navy Personnel Command in July 2007, completed her Masters of Science degree in Operations Management from the University of Arkansas, and served as a catapult and arresting gear officer on the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). She then served as the safety officer, Detachment One officer-in-charge, administrative and maintenance officer in HSC-6. She most recently was assigned to the Joint Staff at the Pentagon in August 2014, where she served as an assistant deputy director for the Operations and Presidential Strike Advisor and as an emergency actions officer for Operations Team One in the National Military Command Center.
Parker reported for duty as executive officer of HT-8 in June, 2016, under Audelo’s leadership, preparing for her turn at the helm.
Parker is honored by the responsibilities of command, but feels the weight as well.
“It is a privilege to instruct the sons and daughters of this Nation, and it is our duty to make them better with every flight," Parker said. "And so with the privilege of leading the finest squadron in the Navy, it is my duty to make it a little better so that we can continue to train the very best helicopter pilots in the world.”
The guest speaker for the event, Rear Adm. Jeffrey W. Hughes, Deputy Chief of Naval Personnel / Commander, Navy Personnel Command, understands that is the work done at NAS Whiting Field that keeps the Navy running smoothly.
“In my nearly 30 years affiliated with Naval aviation,” Hughes sated. “I can emphatically report that the state and reputation of the Navy helicopter
community has never been better, with much of this success attributable to what happens right here. HT-8 has sustained a culture of flight and tactical training excellence...and it has been all due to the aviators, the crewmen, the technicians, the support personnel at all levels that brought our capabilities and our contributions to the forefront.”
Before reading his departing orders, Cmdr. Audelo left parting words to the squadron he led.
“Ours is an unforgiving profession--it is rife with danger--never forget that. Be the best!” Audelo said. “Anytime we strap on the machine or go fly...launching into the dark of night, all ends of the spectrum and everything in between, we have an ethical obligation to be the best...your ethical obligation is to be the best warrior you can be.”
Cmdr. Lena Kaman became the new executive officer of HT-8 during the ceremony, beginning her preparations to take the helm of HT-8 at the next change of command.
NAS Whiting Field Press Release #18-04, April 13, 2018
Lt. j.g. Tyler Mayor, earned his Wings of Gold onboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field on Friday, April 13 after growing up in Navarre, Florida, where he was cradled by military aviation.
Surrounded by NAS Pensacola, NAS Whiting Field, and Eglin Air Force Base, Mayor says it was the exposure of aircraft and flying operations that helped steer him into aviation.
“As a kid, you always have aspirations to have an ‘awesome job’ like astronaut, doctor, firefighter, or pilot,” Mayor remembers. “Seeing aircraft from both the Air Force and Navy flying around on an almost daily basis just further inspired the idea of becoming an aviator.”
Mayor didn’t immediately pursue his dreams of flight. He graduated from Navarre High School in 2010 and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology Sciences from Florida State University in 2014.
“I had the dream to fly when I was a kid and it slowly faded away growing up,” Mayor said. “I never thought about applying until my dad asked if I had thought about it when I graduated college. The next week I reached out to the Navy and started the process.”
After commissioning at Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island in early 2016, Mayor began his road to winging in the same place Naval Aviators have started for decades, with six weeks of classroom academics and physiological training in Aviation Pre-flight Indoctrination onboard NAS Pensacola. He then moved to Corpus Christi, Texas for Primary Flight Training in the Training Squadron 27, flying the T-6B Texan II.
Mayor was selected following primary flight training for his top choice, flying the TH-57 Sea Ranger helicopter onboard NAS Whiting Field, under Helicopter Training Squadron Eight.
“Flight school has definitely increased my personal discipline,” Mayor says. “This is, by far, one of the most challenging experiences I have undergone. The amount of time and effort that goes into training, including mental and physical readiness is overwhelming.”
Mayor recognized early on that naval flight training requires more than raw intelligence out of students. “All of this,” Mayor reflected, “including maintaining a healthy work life balance, was a steep learning curve that got progressively more natural over time.”
Lt. j.g. Tyler Mayor (center) was joined on stage for his winging by, left to right, his girlfriend, Mical Wahl, sister, Kaitlyn Mayor, mother, Lisa Mayor, father, retired SMSgt Robert Mayor, brother, Robert Mayor, and sister-in-law, Kelly Mayor, onboard NAS Whiting Field on Friday April 13, 2018. Photo by Lt. j.g. Luke Rague, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs Staff.
But once Mayor had a chance to rest and look around, he was struck by the uniqueness of his position and how strong the bond is among students. “Being trusted with a multi-million dollar aircraft is a humbling thought in its own,” Mayor said.
“While that is an extraordinary thing in itself, I’m awed by the camaraderie the students have with one another during flight school. I would argue that flight school is almost an impossible feat if you tried learning it on your own,” Mayor said. “Students who have their individual stressors will drop what they are doing to explain in depth any questions you may have. It truly is a no man left behind mindset.”
Mayor was joined Friday on stage by his mother, Lisa Mayor, and was pinned with his Wings of Gold by his father, retired SMSgt Robert Mayor, an Air Force veteran with 28 years of service in logistics planning.
“He has been my role model my entire life,” Mayor said. “I would not be where I am today without his guidance and support.”
Mayor is headed to Jacksonville, Florida. for advanced training in the MH-60R Seahawk, looking forward to being a part of something that is greater than him.
Mayor aspires to “being a person who can inspire those around them and make an impact on their lives. Not only do I feel this will increase mission readiness by creating an intrinsic desire to put in one-hundred percent, but it will also allow for a higher morale which is huge during stressful times.”
Lt. j.g. Tyler Mayor (center) with his family, left to right, his sister, Kaitlyn, father, retired SMSgt Robert Mayor, girlfriend, Mical Wahl, mother, Lisa Mayor, niece, and brother, Robert Mayor, onboard NAS Whiting Field on Friday April 13, 2018. Photo by Lt. j.g. Luke Rague, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs Staff.
NAS Whiting Field Press Release #18-03, April 6, 2018
Destin native Lt. j.g. Danielle Francis Adams grew up in the world of aviation and has now earned her place in that profession, putting on her Wings of Gold to become one of the Navy’s newest helicopter pilots.
Adams earned her wings during a ceremony onboard Naval Air Station Whiting Field on March 23. She was winged as the 34,201th unrestricted Naval Aviator in the United States Navy. Joined onstage by her family and friends, she was pinned by her twin sister, Ali Hollis.
“I’m honored we were able to help each other through the last few years of training, and to finally be here for her today,” Hollis said, who is in medical school. “It’s once in a lifetime for her.”
Adams was born in Pensacola before moving to Destin. She attended Fort Walton Beach High School, graduating in 2011. She attended the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, Florida, earning a Bachelor’s in Athletic Training in 2015. Adams commissioned as an officer at the Officer Candidate School in Newport, Rhode Island, in 2016.
Adams finds it hard to imagine living not surrounded by aviation, after growing up in the world’s busiest airspaces. But she wasn’t always set on becoming an aviator.
“I did not go to a recruiter with the intention of flying,” Adams said, who wasn’t sure how the Navy could use her degree. “I primarily wanted to serve, regardless of what job I did.”
Adams’ sense of duty is no surprise because her parents, both Destin residents, made a career in the Navy. Her mother, Anita Francis, served for 22 years, starting as an enlisted Flight Engineer. She retired as a Lieutenant Aviation Maintenance Officer working on C-130 Hercules airplanes. Her father, David Adams, served for 27 years in numerous airframes and retired as a qualified aircrew Aviation Master Chief.
“We tried to get both daughters to join, taking them every year of high school to summer camps at the Academy,” David said, whose final duty station was the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. “But they wanted nothing to do with it,” Francis added.
Adams needed to find her own way in, Francis remembers. She earned her degree and spent time as the athletic trainer for a professional rugby team before reaching out to a recruiter.
“We were both about floored,” Francis remembers from the phone call when Adams told them she was joining. “But she finally did it when it was her decision, not because we wanted it.”
Once the chance to become an aviator was offered to Adams, she knew it was the right path for her.
“A lot of hard work goes into flight school, but once you get the hang of it, it’s a one-of-a-kind experience,” Adams said.
Adams, who passed through the halls of Training Squadron Two and
Helicopter Training Squadron Eight, appreciates that flight school was more than just the adrenaline rush of learning to fly.
“I learned a great deal about myself, especially what sort of leader I want to become,” she said. “We are given opportunities to grow individually, but working as a crew, especially in the helicopter community, is a key to success.”
Adams will next be moving to Norfolk, Virginia to begin advanced training to fly the MH-53E Sea Dragon. She hopes to make a career in the Navy, putting in 20 years and looking forward to what opportunities present themselves along the way.