(Airfield Dedication)…It honors a Naval aviation legend.
Naval Air Facility El Centro will hold a formal ceremony Friday at 9:00 am to officially name the airfield Vraciu Field. The event is to publicly celebrate the dedication of the facility’s airfield in honor of legendary Navy pilot Commander Alexander Vraciu, a World War 2 ace with direct ties to the base, having won top honors at an annual aerial gunnery competition in 1957. Admiral J.M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations, authorized the dedication in an order dated October 1, 2018. Since its commissioning in 1946, NAF El Centro’s airfield has remained unnamed., despite the key role the installation plays in Navy and Marine Corps aviation flight training. Captain Brent Alfonzo, commanding officer of NAF El Centro will host the event and Rear Admiral Gregory Harris, Chief of Naval Air Training, will deliver the keynote address to an expected crowd of about 200 military and civilian members. Among Vraciu’s accomplishments, he shot down six enemy aircraft on June 19, 1944. He did it in one flight, in less than 8 minutes, using only 360 rounds. Attendance at the ceremony is by invitation only.