Estimated reading time 6 minutes, 56 seconds.
The Naval Helicopter Association (NHA) held its annual symposium at the Marriott Norfolk Waterside Hotel, May 11-13, 2022, centered on how the human advantage strengthens Naval Aviation’s rotary wing community.
On May 12, the first full day of programming, the event featured a Major Commanders Panel featuring leadership from various facets of the rotary wing community.
The panel was moderated by Capt. Newt McKissick, executive officer, Naval Base Coronado, and included Capt. Brent Gaut, commanding officer, USS George Washington (CVN 73); Capt. Sam Bryant, commodore, Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Wing; Capt. Ryan Keys, commodore, Helicopter Sea Combat Wing Atlantic; Capt. Teague Laguens, commodore, Helicopter Maritime Strike Wing Atlantic; Capt. Ross Drenning, deputy commander, Carrier Air Wing 11; Capt. Derrick Kingsley, executive officer, Naval Air Station Patuxent River; and Capt. Joseph Murphy, commanding officer, USS Bataan (LHD 5).
These Major Commanders discussed a range of topics including how to support teammates mentally and emotionally, the effects of technology, and what motivates them to stay in such a challenging and demanding career field.
“Naval Aviation is a team sport and there doesn’t seem to be that same camaraderie in the civilian world,” said Drenning. “I look out in the audience and I see my flight school roommate who is also in a leadership role as a deputy commodore; those relationships are like no other. You get to mentor people and have the ability to really change someone’s life. Captains in the U.S. Navy have the authority to make a lot of decisions that other services may not have. You can influence a junior officer’s career path to make sure they’re successful and happy, and you get to have a little piece of that. It’s watching your children take over the world.”
On the second and final day of programming for the event, Vice Chief of Naval Operations (VCNO) Adm. Bill Lescher met for a discussion with lieutenant commanders followed immediately by a meeting with junior officers. Both groups were able to ask questions of the VNCO in an open forum.
In the final event on the final day of the symposium, NHA held its annual Flag Panel discussion featuring senior leaders from across the fleet.
The Flag Panel was moderated by retired Rear Adm. Daniel Fillion, NHA national chairman, and participants included Vice Adm. Jeffrey Hughes, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting development, N7, OPNAV; Rear Adm. Alvin Holsey, commander, Navy Personnel Command; Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, director, Air Warfare Division, N98, OPNAV; Rear Adm. John Menoni, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two; and Rear Adm. Max McCoy, commander, Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center (NAWDC).
The conversation was wide-ranging, with panelists taking many questions from the audience. However two major themes emerged: leadership and the Chief of Naval Aviation’s “Get Real, Get Better” guidance.
Leadership fit in well with the conference theme—The Human Advantage—with the admirals discussing how to help and learn from more junior officers.
“They all want to perform; they all want to be warfighters,” said McCoy. “As we look at new ways of doing things, we have to capitalize on the young people coming into the force…but we also have to give them the tools to dominate in the battlespace.”