Pax River NAS Celebrates 65th Birthday - Southern Maryland Headline News

Pax River NAS Celebrates 65th Birthday


By Guy Leonard, County Times

Sen. Roy Dyson (D-Dist. 29) cuts the birthday cake along with Capt. Glen Ives, commander of Patuxent River Naval Air Station and members of the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners for the 65th anniversary of the naval air station’s commissioning.
Sen. Roy Dyson (D-Dist. 29) cuts the birthday cake along with Capt. Glen Ives, commander of Patuxent River Naval Air Station and members of the St. Mary’s County Board of County Commissioners for the 65th anniversary of the naval air station’s commissioning. (Photo: Guy Leonard)

PATUXENT RIVER, Md.—Back in 1943 Patuxent River Naval Air Station was just getting started on its journey to being the local military and community fixture it has become today.

Construction was just beginning on hangars and other facilities for the testing of naval aircraft, but the head of the then Naval Aeronautics Bureau, Rear Adm. John S. McCain had high expectations for the sailors and pilots who would work there.

In his commissioning speech April 1 of that year he said that the base was the most needed facility for the U.S. Navy because of its mission in furthering naval aviation.

“You have a chance to make a great reputation,” McCain said to the sailors and pilots at the base’s official opening.

Fast forward to 2008 and the base has reached its 65th year of operation and Capt. Glen Ives, the naval air station’s commanding officer said that McCain’s expectations have been fulfilled and even surpassed.

“We thrive on change, accept it and we embrace it,” Ives told sailors and civilian employees of the base at its birthday ceremony Tuesday. “That’s what we’ve done is establish a great reputation.”

Looking at a photographic slide show of what the base looked like back in 1943, it looked more like an outpost than the sprawling facility it is today with about 22,000 employees.

Workers who were constructing the base had to live in Quonset-style huts with beds positioned in open space across from the other in barracks fashion, one photo revealed.

“So all my guys back there in the barracks, stop moaning,” Ives said to enlisted men at the ceremony.

Being on the cutting edge of naval aviation was a great mission, Ives said, and that’s one of the reasons the base had been so successful in its 65 years of operation.

But the people who worked on the base were the other critical piece of the puzzle.

“We do have the best people in the world… they know their jobs and they do them,” Ives said. “But we are also blessed to be in the greatest community in the country.”

Sen. Roy Dyson (D-Dist.29) presented proclamations from the House of Delegates, State Senate and Gov. Martin O’Malley celebrating the base’s 65th birthday and congratulated the people who work there for their efforts.

“After 65 years because of each and every one of you [Pax River NAS] still has a fantastic reputation.”

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