Fresh, former employees connect for retiree appreciation

Fresh, former employees connect for retiree appreciationPictured: Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division alumni gather outside before the start of the 2017 Retiree Appreciation Day event at China Lake. — U.S. Navy photo by Ron Rodriguez

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By STACIE BAILEY

NAWCWD Public Affairs

Several generations of current and former Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division employees gathered in McLean Laboratory recently for the annual Retiree Day Appreciation event at China Lake.

Rear Adm. Brian Corey, NAWCWD commander; Joan Johnson, executive director; and Capt. Paul Dale, commanding officer of Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, welcomed the guests while extending their appreciation to the alumni as well as their excitement about the future of the command.

“I want to thank all of you for what you did to build this place,” Corey said. “And more importantly, to build the people you left behind as you earned what I hope are your golden years because the culture that we have here is priceless. The people we have here are priceless.”

Johnson spoke about the increase in hiring and its effect on the command’s demographics as well as the transfer of knowledge.

“We’ve hired over 2,000 people in the last seven years, many of whom are part of the Engineer and Scientist Development Program, and we’ve seen our demographics change,” Johnson said.

“Forty-six percent of our workforce here has 10 years or less, and that’s a great shift for us. I’m incredibly encouraged and excited about what’s going on here because we’ve got a phenomenal, motivated workforce of fresh thinking paired with national experts, people who have done it before.”

Attendees were briefed by young scientists and engineers on the Digital Precision Strike Suite and its flagship programs, high- energy-laser weapons systems, and common-core radars.

“It was an exciting opportunity to share what we do for the warfighter with the people whose shoes we are trying to fill,” said Ryan Hiser, an ESDP employee. “The amount of institutional knowledge in the room was inspiring and will encourage my future endeavors. A few retirees noted that I was a third-generation China Laker and were very eager to see what family or friend connections we might have in this tight-knit community.”

Howard McCauley, the event host and master of ceremonies, recognized a few of the alumni base on how many generations of family they had actively working at NAWCWD, how many years they worked at the command and how far they travelled for the appreciation event.

One attendee traveled all the way from Austria.

“As an ESDP, it felt a little intimidating presenting in front of so many experts who have decades of experience working at NAWCWD and who show incredible passion about China Lake with some even traveling halfway across the world to learn about ongoing work here,” said Dr. Jackie Sze.

“It was an honor getting to meet some of the wonderful employees who made China Lake the place it is now.”

The event wrapped up with Richard Chairez, research and engineering associate technology officer, and two ESDPs who led some of NAWCWD’s Innovation Challenge projects sharing current and upcoming avenues of innovation at WD.

“I enjoyed the presentations thoroughly; they were very good,” said Ann Wagner, a NAWCWD retiree.

“I’ve always been impressed by the young engineers ever since I was being introduced to them when I worked in the admiral’s office. It’s just is a pleasure to hear that the knowledge and hard work are ongoing.”

Story First Published: 2017-12-15