HT-8 Earns Three Coveted Awards for 2013

Published on June 10, 2014 with No Comments

Helicopter Training Squadron EIGHT (HT-8), “Eightballers,” received the Vice Admiral Robert Goldthwaite Award for Training Excellence from Rear Adm. Roy J. Kelley, USN, Chief of Naval Air Training. Cmdr. Matthew J. Bowen, the former Commanding Officer (CO) for HT-8, accepted the award at a formal ceremony in the National Naval Aviation Museum May 9. The squadron earned the three top awards in naval aviation training for the 2013 calendar year.

The Vice Adm. Goldthwaite Award is awarded to the outstanding squadron in the Naval Air Training Command (NATRACOM) and acknowledges the outstanding achievements of units engaged in the flight training of Student Naval Aviators. HT-8 also obtained the Chief of Naval Air Training (CNATRA) Training Excellence Award for Advanced Squadron, identifying the best overall advanced training squadrons; and the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Aviation Safety Award, recognizing commands that display vigilance and dedication to the safety and well-being of the military service members within the command.

“I never had a doubt that the Eightballer instructors and students were the best in CNATRA and some of the safest but to see the squadron receive these awards re-enforces what we have been doing over the past year: training the world’s best rotary wing pilots; safely and with the highest quality,” declared Bowen.

The Eightballers distinguished themselves within the training community with multiple “CNATRA Best Practice” citations for the Eightball University, an online portal for student flight training resources; and their implementation of the Commander, Naval Air Forces – Aviation Safety Awareness Program (CNAF ASAP Program) which highlights the common errors or potential weaknesses and allows for a more directed focus on the squadron’s weaknesses to improve training methods.

According to the award nomination package, HT-8 maintained a standard of excellence in the professional and personal development of its Student Naval Aviators and aggressively addressed students’ needs within flight training and personal matters. The command also proactively contributed to the local community volunteering 85 man-hours; establishing a standard for selfless service to the local area while enhancing support and camaraderie with the civilian population.

Cmdr. Bowen expressed his sentiments and pride in HT-8’s hardwork and dedication: “Often individuals look to the CO to give him or her all the credit for earning three awards in one year, but this is far from the truth. My command philosophy is ELITE: Excel, Learn, Inspire, Teach, and Enjoy. I have empowered my Instructor Pilots, Aircrewmen, and Students with integrity and accomplishing the goal of the mission when it could be accomplished safely. I was never one to push a mission just to get an ‘X’ in the box and because of that I feel the squadron was able to have fun while getting the job done. I never doubted anyone’s ability to accomplish the mission.”

These attitudes were demonstrated in 2013, as HT-8 flew 21,137.4 safe, mishap-free flight hours producing 156 winged Naval Aviators for the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Allied partners and trained 22 MV-22 “Osprey” Pilots for the Marine Corps. The squadron also maintained a significantly lower attrition rate at 3.4 percent than the historical average.

“I am honored hat HT-8 has received so many accolades in just one year but we are only a component of an incredible CNATRA, Training Air Wing FIVE and Naval Air Station Whiting Field team. We certainly could not do our job without the support of our Wing, NAS Whiting Field or our sister squadron.”

Both the CNATRA Training Excellence Award for Advanced Squadron and the CNO Aviation Safety Award will be presented to the squadron at a later date.

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