Naval Air Station Brunswick disestablishment pays tribute to NAS history, present and future

Posted Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in News

Naval Air Station Brunswick disestablishment pays tribute to NAS history, present and future

The color guard presents the flag to Brunswick Naval Air Station's final commander, Captain William Fitzgerald.

by Tristan Radtke

BRUNSWICK -- With a long and storied history, Naval Air Station Brunswick began its life serving as a base for Royal Air Force pilots flying the F4U Corsair, the mainstay of Allied carrier forces throughout World War Two. With a brief deactivation after World War Two, Naval Air Station Brunswick was recommissioned as a Naval Air Station in 1951, following the beginning of the Korean War. Naval Air Station Brunswick remained an active neighbor in the midcoast until, following its inclusion in the 2005 BRAC closure list, the Navy began preparations to close the base by September 2011.

On May 31, Captain Will Fitzgerald, the 36th and last Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station Brunswick, was tasked with ending the military chapter of the base's history. The disestablishment ceremony was, in Captain Fitzgerald's words, more like an “Irish wake” – a celebration of the history that Naval Air Station Brunswick has had, and the history that Naval Air Station Brunswick has already made and will make in the steps towards redeveloping the base.

About four hundred citizens, both military and civilian, attended the event. Governor Paul Lepage, as well as representatives of Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe, and Representatives Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, were on hand.

In addition, Arthur Mayo, Chair of the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority, spoke about the successful and historic turnover of Navy property prior to the closure of the base, which he credited with adding possibly 600 jobs in the midcoast, with eight separate companies interested in locating to or already located at the new Brunswick Landing.

The ceremony celebrated the community that grew around and within the area by encompassing both military and civilian members of the community. Many previous Commanding Officers of Naval Air Station Brunswick were on hand, as well as sailors from around the country who had served on the base during their career. The brass band was made up of Brunswick and Mount Ararat High School band members, and the colors were presented by a local Sea Scout troop.

The ceremony culminated in the final lowering of the colors at the Command Building. The flag was ceremonially presented to Captain Fitzgerald, thus ending the station's military history. But as the day's speakers had each pointed out – the history of Brunswick Landing begins today.

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