Naval Air Station Oceana commanding officer talks about partnership with city; air show will again welcome all Virginia Beach fifth graders

Local students, including Allison Ragudo from St. John the Apostle Catholic School, were a focus of the 2016 Naval Air Station Oceana Air Show. [John-Henry Doucette/The Princess Anne Independent News]

COURTHOUSE – The commanding officer of Naval Air Station Oceana said fifth graders from Virginia Beach schools will again be invited to attend the air show this year, which is scheduled from Sept. 15 to 17.

More than 6,000 students attended the air show this past year through a partnership between the Navy and Virginia Beach schools that included a learning focus on science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, learning activities — as well as a chance for young people to simply enjoy the show.

“We’re going to do it again this year,” U.S. Navy Capt. Rich Meadows said during a meeting of the First Precinct Citizens Advisory Committee at the municipal center on Tuesday, June 6. “We truly love showing that base off.”

Meadows said the initial idea to bring students came from a lunch with Dr. Aaron Spence, superintendent of the city schools, at a restaurant in Red Mill. Discussion initially considered two grades before officials decided that bringing in all fifth graders was the right approach.

Meadows discussed the importance of relationships between the Navy and the city, including coordination with city police such as training together, as well as how the city and base have worked together on the encroachment issue. 

He also said another partnership could develop between efforts to replenish beaches at Dam Neck Annex, which has about three miles of beach, and Sandbridge in the future. Meadows said it would be ideal for Virginia Beach and the Navy to “team up” to save money.

Meadows briefly addressed the spill of 94,000 gallons of jet fuel in May during his remarks, noting that results of an investigation were forthcoming regarding the incident. Perhaps 25,000 gallons of the fuel leaked off base, affecting neighborhoods such as Cheltenham Square and Nottingham Estates, according to WVEC-TV.

Regarding moving residents, the Oceana commanding officer said, “We were a little late to the game with that.”

The Navy did voluntary relocation for several residents near the areas of Wolfsnare Creek and London Bridge Road during cleanup, though residents complained in media reports about initial delays in responding to concerns and, in The Virginian-Pilot, have worried about lasting effects of the spill. 

© 2017 Pungo Publishing Co., LLC

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