Naval Air Station Whiting Field Public Affairs Office
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Release # 21-03 Jan. 14, 2021
NAS Whiting Field Changes command in a virtual ceremony Jan. 14
Naval Air Station Whiting Field, Fla. - Capt. Paul N. Flores, U.S. Navy, relieved Capt. Paul D. Bowdich as the 43rd commanding officer of Naval Air Station Whiting Field in a mostly virtual ceremony onboard the installation on Jan 14.
The change of command ceremony is a long-standing Navy tradition that is focused on ensuring orderly transition of duties from one officer to another. Typically, the ceremony would be held with a large audience from the base and community, but due to COVID-19, the event was smaller and broadcast virtually.
Rear Adm. Gary Mayes, Commander Navy Region Southeast, attended via a collaboration tool on camera and screen, and commented that, “When you strip away the Navy Band, the large audience, the elected officials and all the pomp and circumstance – when you take all that away, it truly highlights the reason we are here. Change of command is about the continuity of leadership. It all comes down to those simple, but profound words, “I relieve you.” The minute those words are uttered, the accountability and responsibility for the entire command is passed on to the next leader. Accountability is imperative in our business.”
In addition to helping establish the authority of the incoming commanding officer, the change of command ceremony also helps to highlight the successes of the outgoing “Skipper.”
Under Bowdich’s leadership the past three years, the installation made a significant impact supporting Training Air Wing Five’s aviation training mission. Under his watch, Whiting Field provided air traffic control, emergency fire and rescue services, and runway and grounds maintenance to more than 13,000 acres of property at 12 outlying landing fields in Florida and Alabama, This accomplishment included supporting safe execution of roughly 400,000 flight hours and 3.5 million flight evolutions, as well as classroom and simulator training for approximately 3,700 student naval aviators.
Productivity at the twelve outlying airfields under Bowdich’s direct control supported Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Air Force and allied forces operations, roughly 60 percent of the Navy’s primary aviation training, and averaging 17 percent of all Navy flight hours. One hundred percent of all helicopter pilots in the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard received their helicopter advanced training at Whiting.
Bowdich also saw the first Navy land exchange to fruition with the swap of OLF Site 8 in Escambia County for a fully operational OLF Site X in Jay, Fla. This event was lauded by the Navy as a standard setter.
Mayes commended his achievements, expressing the difficulties inherent in commanding and managing a Naval installation.
“Paul, despite the abundant challenges posed throughout 2020, you continued to provide matchless support for Training Wing FIVE’s aviation training mission. You operated the busiest aviation training facility in the nation flying approximately 1 million operations each year, which ensures more than 1,200 aviation warfighters were sent to the fleet to be the future of our national defense,” Mayes commented.
He also went on to say, “in large measure, that is why your base was named the Region Small Category for the Navy-wide Installation Excellence Award.”
Although he commented that giving up command was bitter sweet, Bowdich lauded his Sailors and team for their accomplishments and support throughout his three year tenure.
“It has been the honor of a lifetime serving as the commanding officer for Naval Air Station Whiting Field these past three years. I’d like to thank each and every one of the NAS Whiting Field team personally for making this tour the most enjoyable any commanding officer could hope for. A big thank you goes out to all the Sailors and civilians for their hard work and dedication to supporting the flying mission here at Whiting Field,”Bowdich said.
During his career, Bowdich’s first operational assignment was with the Fleet Angels of HC-2 with two deployments to Manama, Bahrain, following this assignment he completed detachments with Commander Second Fleet onboard the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) and the USS Enterprise (CVN 65). Other assignments include; Helicopter Combat Support Squadron (HC-2) with detachments to the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) for Operation Strong Resolve where he flew with NAS Oceana SAR, NAS Pensacola SAR and NAS Key West SAR, USS Ogden (LPD 5) San Diego, California, Air Boss during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, the Merlins of HSC-3 and a deployment to Barking Sands, Hawaii. Bowdich reported to the Naval War College to earn a Masters of Arts degree in National Security and Strategic Studies. He reported to the Coalition Coordination Center (J5-CCC) U.S. Central command, following this assignment he reported to Training Air Wing FIVE as executive officer of Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT to become commanding officer from December 2011 until April 2013. Bowdich then reported to the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVJN 71) with a deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. His last assignment prior to taking over command with NAS Whiting Field was to Naval Education and Training Command, Pensacola Fla.
Incoming commanding officer, Flores, addressed a small audience and the virtual crowd. “To the men and women of NAS Whiting Field, I am truly honored to stand here today as your commanding officer, and I’ll work hard to ensure that we not only maintain, but improve our track record of installation excellence. I look forward to serving with you,” he said.
Following designation as a naval aviator in September 1999, Flores reported to the VAW-120 Greyhawks for further flight training and carrier qualification in the E-2C Hawkeye, and subsequently reported to the Wallbangers of VAW-117 for his initial fleet assignment. His combat deployments include the USS CARL VINSON (CVN 70) in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) in support of Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. Additional assignments include: the VT-21 Redhawks as a strike flight training instructor, standardization instructor, schedules officer, weapons detachment officer in charge, and the Black Eagles of VAW-113 as safety, admin, and maintenance officer. He also completed three deployments aboard USS RONALD REAGAN (CVN 76) in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, and TOMODACHI. In November 2011, Captain Flores reported to Provincial Reconstruction Team Paktika, Afghanistan, where served as executive officer and deputy commander. He served ten months in Afghanistan leading counterinsurgency operations in support of Operation ENDURING FREEDOM. In December 2012, Flores reported to the Naval War College where he earned a Masters of Arts in National Security and Strategic Studies. In July 2014, Flores served as executive officer and commanding officer for the Golden Hawks of VAW-112, deployed aboard USS JOHN C. STENNIS (CVN 74) supporting 2016 WESTPAC and 2016 RIMPAC exercises. In July 2017, Flores reported to the National War College where he earned a masters of science in National Security Strategy. In July 2018, he reported to the Joint Operations Center at Joint Force Command Naples where he served as the deputy director of the Joint Operations Center and the Senior Naval Representative. Throughout his career, Flores has accumulated over 6,000 military flight hours and over 1000 carrier landings.
Naval Air Station Whiting Field, home of Training Air Wing Five, is the backbone of Naval Aviation Training, supporting approximately 60 percent of all primary fixed-wing flight training and 100 percent of all initial helicopter training for the Navy, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. NAS Whiting Field is the busiest aviation complex in the world with roughly 1 million flight operations flown at the installation annually. It is comprised of two main airfields and 12 Navy Outlying Landing Fields across four counties in Southeast Alabama and Northwest Florida. Training Air Wing Five flies an estimated 43 percent of the Chief of Naval Air Training Command's total flight time and more than 17 percent of Navy and Marine Corps' flight time worldwide. More than 1,200 personnel receive their essential flight training through TRAWING Five annually.
210114-N-QF733-001: At NAS Whiting Field’s change of command ceremony Jan. 14, Capt. Paul D. Bowdich, outgoing commanding officer, received the Legion of Merit award from Commander, Navy Installations Command. His children, Samantha and Samuel, pinned the award on his uniform during the ceremony. (Photo by Julie Ziegenhorn, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs)
210114-N-QF733-003: Capt. Paul D. Bowdich, outgoing commanding officer for NAS Whiting Field, salutes the screen where Commander, Navy Region Southeast Rear Adm. Gary Mayes connected virtually for the ceremony. Incoming commanding officer, Capt. Paul N. Flores (left) took over as the 43rd commanding officer in a ceremony that was conducted virtually due to COVID-19. (Photo by Julie Ziegenhorn, NAS Whiting Field Public Affairs)