3-May-2021 Source: US Navy
Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) recognized several training squadrons and individuals for outstanding achievements and mission support throughout the command in 2020.
“The squadrons and individuals recognized this year have shown their dedication, determination, and focus on our mission,” CNATRA Rear Adm. Robert Westendorff said. “They are representative of our entire command’s collective resolve for excellence in aviation training and I could not be more proud of them all.”
The 2020 CNATRA Training Excellence award is awarded to primary and advanced training squadrons that exceeded mission goals for the year while maintaining the highest standards of safety and professionalism.
The “Boomers” of Training Squadron (VT) 27 (primary) and the “Wise Owls” of VT-31 (advanced), received the CNATRA Training Excellence Award. VT-27 also received the Vice Adm. Robert Goldthwaite Training Excellence Award for the top overall Naval Air Training Command squadron.
The “Stingrays” of VT-35 Squadron Augment Unit (SAU) received the SAU of the Year Award for achievements in flight training as a Navy Reserve unit.
In addition to recognizing training squadrons, CNATRA recognized the following individuals for their contributions as flight instructors: Flight Instructor of the Year – Lt. Isay Rapoport, VT-27; Reserve Component Flight Instructor of the Year – Lt. Cmdr. Joel Frederick, VT-35; George M. Skurla Naval Flight Officer Instructor of the Year – Lt. Stephen Smith, the “Sabrehawks” of VT-86.
The Orville Wright Achievement Award, sponsored by the Daedalian Foundation, recognizes the students who achieved the highest grade average for a six month period. The January to June recipient was Marine 1st Lt. Douglas Haas and the July to December recipient was Lt. j.g. Trent Kurek. Both winged with the “Hellions” of Helicopter Training Squadron (HT) 28.
The McCampbell and Foss Awards, sponsored by the American Fighter Aces Association, are awarded to graduates who excelled in the Air Combat Maneuvering stage during flight training. CNATRA selected Lt. j.g. James Tucker, who winged with the “Golden Eagles” of VT-22, and Marine 1st Lt. Benjamin Felhoffer, who winged with the “Redhawks” of VT-21, for the awards, respectively. CNATRA also selected Felhoffer as the recipient of the Britannia Award, sponsored by the British Royal Navy.
CNATRA named Ensign Louise Zhou the Outstanding Female Flight Student Graduate for 2020. This award recognizes the NATRACOM female flight student with the highest grade average and is sponsored by the National Society, Daughters of the American Colonists. Zhou, who winged with the “Warbucks” of VT-4, also received the Rear Adm. Thurston H. James Memorial Award, sponsored by The Naval Order of the United States.
The Reserve Officer Association Selected Reserve Junior Officer of the Year is Lt. Cmdr. Kyle Reilly, VT-86. The Association of the United States Navy Selected Reserve Junior Officer of the Year is Lt. Anthony Matheus with the “Rangers” of VT-28. The Association of the United States Navy Full Time Support Junior Officer of the Year is Lt. Cmdr. Richard Hill with the “Hellions” of HT-28.
CNATRA’s awards program also includes recognition for individuals who have made significant contributions to the mission outside the cockpit. CNATRA named Lt. Theodore Hagmann, Training Air Wing 1, Flight Surgeon of the Year, while Lt. James Eldridge, of the “Redhawks” of VT-21 was named CNATRA Landing Signal Officer of the Year. The LSO of the Year award is sponsored by the Tailhook Association.
CNATRA, headquartered in Corpus Christi, trains the world’s finest combat quality aviation professionals, delivering them at the right time, in the right numbers, and at the right cost to a Naval Force that is where it matters, when it matters.