Centro for several weeks in advance of the March 11
NAF El Centro Air Show. Blue Angels pilots will complete 120 practice flights before kicking off the 2017 air
Bernacchi presented Council President Ted Gallinat
with the team’s first signed lithograph of the 2017
season, and Gallinat presented the 2017 Blue Angels
“Newbies” with the council’s T-bone Award. Bernacchi,
who joined the squadron in 2015, has four new Blue
Angels pilots on his team along with a number of new
Gallinat also presented NAF El Centro’s Commanding Officer Capt. Brent Alfonzo with a check for $3,600
in support of the 2017 NAF El Centro Air Show. Later,
Bernacchi and Alfonzo joined Gallinat in cutting the
council’s 68th birthday cake.
The Blue Angels were honored guests of the council several weeks later when it held its 34th annual
Desert Outing fundraiser Feb. 24 at the Mirage Club
aboard NAF El Centro. Representatives from the council’s sponsored units at the event included the NAF El
Centro tenant command; Marine Attack Squadron 214
from Yuma, Ariz.; and the Coast Guard Cutter Petrel
homeported in San Diego, according to the council’s
Representatives from area Navy League councils
also were on hand, as was Cari Thomas, the Navy
League’s national executive director, who stressed the
importance of grassroots volunteerism and thanked the
Navy League members for volunteering their time in
support of the Navy League missions. A question-and-answer session with Bernacchi followed.
The event drew a record crowd of 375 guests, according to the council’s T-Bone Tidbits newsletter. Proceeds
from the outing help fund the council’s ongoing spon-sorship of its adopted units.
The council also was set to host the Blue Angels
maintainers at its March 7 dinner meeting. Maintenance
Master Chief Matthew Heathcoat was scheduled to be
the guest speaker along with members of the team that
ensures the air worthiness of the Blue Angels aircraft.
Former Vietnam POW
Speaks at Denver Council
The Denver Council welcomed retired Navy Capt.
Mike McGrath as the principal speaker at its Jan. 20
Winter Dinner at the Hilton Garden Inn Denver Airport.
McGrath, author of “Prisoner of War — Six Years in
Hanoi,” spoke of the importance of having strong
core values and the power and resilience of the human
spirit, even in the worst of circumstances, according to
a report on the council’s Facebook page.
After flying 179 combat missions as an A-4C
Skyhawk pilot, McGrath’s plane was shot down in
Vietnam on June 30, 1967, according to an article
previewing the dinner in the council’s January Peak
News newsletter. He spent 2,075 days as a prisoner
at the infamous Hanoi Hilton, where he faced brutal
treatment while participating in communication and
organization efforts to resist enemy exploitation.
McGrath was repatriated in March 1973 and resumed his career in naval aviation. He retired from
the Navy in 1987 after a three-year tour as naval
attaché in Quito, Ecuador, and began a second career
with United Airlines.
“His experiences during this turbulent time are lessons we should all learn for the future,” then-Council
President Linda Morris said in the article.
The council also recognized the 2016 Sailors of the
Year from Navy Information Operations Command,
Colo., which is based in Aurora. Cryptologic Technician
(Technical) 1st Class Toby Galt was the Senior Sailor of
the Year, Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class
The Oakland, Calif., Council’s 2016 Sailor of the Year awards
for its adopted ship USS Abraham Lincoln were presented by
Command Master Chief Lee Salas during a ceremony in The
Chief’s Mess onboard the carrier Jan. 30. From the left are
Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Christopher Wade, Junior Sailor
of the Year; Operations Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Smith, Sailor
of Year; Salas; and Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Tanya Burton,
Senior Sailor of the Year. Not pictured is Seaman Derek Johnson,
Blue Jacket of the Year, who was off the ship conducting train-
ing, according to Council President Greg Brazil. Abraham Lincoln
is in the final stages of completing a refueling and overhaul in
Newport News, Va.