PATUXENT RIVER, MD — A 2011 Northmont High School graduate and Dayton native is serving “Where the future of naval aviation begins” at Naval Air Station (NAS) Patuxent River, located in Patuxent River, Maryland.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephen Sawyer is an air traffic controller at NAS Patuxent River, responsible for making sure the planes don’t touch each other in the air.
Located at the mouth of the Patuxent River, the 14,500-acre complex is host to Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) headquarters and Headquarters, Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR). These two entities provide the full spectrum of acquisition management, research and development capabilities, air and ground test and evaluation, aircraft logistics and maintenance management.
“I really like the adrenaline rush I get while doing my job,” said Sawyer. “It is stressful but it is fun getting up there and making things play out.”
NAS Patuxent River is home to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and the Atlantic Test Range and 50 other tenant commands. The facilities at Patuxent River are utilized by foreign governments, academic institutions and private industry for similar projects and deliver effective and efficient installation management enabling tenants to achieve integrated warfare systems and life cycle sustainment.
Sawyer said he and other sailors are proud to be serving at a command that readily defends America at at all times.
“I like the type of facility that we have here,” said Sawyer. “We have a multitude of aircrafts. It keeps you on your toes because you really have to think about who you are putting each other in front of, which is a great training experience.”
With more than 800 employees assigned to the host naval air station staff, the civilian and military “Pax Pros” work hard to ensure the continued security, safety and first-class services are provided to all 20,000+ employees working aboard the installation, according to Navy officials.
“The work our sailors and civilians do every day is extremely important to both the current health and future of Naval Aviation, and it directly impacts the Fleet,” said Capt. Scott Starkey, Naval Air Station Patuxent River commanding officer. ”From our Naval Security Force that keep us secure, to our Fire and Emergency Services, child care professionals and morale welfare and recreation personnel, and our Air and Port Operations Team, and everything in-between, our PAX TEAM enables our tenants’ missions and positively impacts research, development, testing and evaluation. We are extremely proud of our personnel and the important work they do every day.”
Serving in the Navy, Sawyer is learning about being more of a leader through handling numerous responsibilities.
“The Navy has taught me how to be a little more well-rounded,” said Sawyer. “I have learned the importance of being active in the command and keeping myself busy while searching for success and putting my best foot forward.”