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Navy

Arthurgwain L. Marquez / NAWS China Lake Facebook Page

Less than 10 miles away from the epicenters of the two powerful earthquakes that shook the Ridgecrest area over Independence Day weekend lies a military base: Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake. It’s huge—larger than nine U.S.

Lemoore Naval Air Station

The identity of the Naval pilot who crashed in Death Valley National Park Wednesday morning has been released. Lieutenant Charles Z. Walker was flying a F/A-18E Super Hornet in a routine training flight, when his plane went down near Father Crowley Overlook in the park. The 33-year-old joined the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps in 2004, and was first stationed in Lemoore in 2011.

U.S. Navy [Public domain] via Wikimedia Commons

The Navy confirmed in a statement Thursday that the pilot who went down in Death Valley Wednesday morning died in the crash. The pilot's identity has not yet been released, and the cause of the crash is still under investigation. 

The single-seat fighter jet originating from Lemoore Naval Air Station crashed Wednesday morning around 10 a.m., in the western area of Death Valley National Park known as Crowley Point. 

Monica Velez

Joaquin Antonio Sotelo Tarin points to the various medals pinned on the left side of his Navy uniform: there’s an Aviation Warfare Specialist insignia, an Operation War on Terrorism Medal, an Iraqi Freedom Medal, a National Defense Service Medal, and a Good Service Medal.

 

The 37-year-old served four years in Iraq, Kuwait, and Afghanistan. He lives in Los Banos with his wife and four young children.

 

In 2005, he was honorably discharged and when he returned to the United States, civilian life was difficult.

Military's Early Valley Fever Research Still Benefiting Public Health Today

Dec 5, 2017
Lemoore Army Flying School Class 43B yearbook

In the city of Lemoore, a community of 25,000 rising out of arid cropland in California’s San Joaquin Valley, almost everyone has a story about valley fever.

Take Frank Bernhardt, nursing a beer at the Fleet Reserve bar on the edge of town. He first encountered the disease just after moving here in the 1960s. “Years ago, my youngest daughter had it. She just didn't have no energy,” he said.

“I had a sailor that worked for me that had it,” recalls Kevin Crownover, playing dice across the bar. “He probably missed about a week's worth of work.”

Lemoore Naval Air Station will be the next home base of the US Navy’s new F-35c joint strike fighter jet. Several squadrons totaling 100 aircraft with be based at Lemoore, replacing the aging FA-18 Hornet. Lemoore beat out El Centro Naval Air Facility in Imperial County in the bid to host the jets. 

In a written statement announcing the decision, Congressman David Valadao said the move will result in new jobs and a boost to the local economy."

Ezra David Romero / Valley Public Radio

We all know that California’s drought is posing huge problems for valley farmers. But as FM89’s Ezra David Romero reports, it’s also a concern for pilots at one of the largest Navy installations in the west.

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It’s a busy day at the Lemoore Naval Air Station in Kings County. Pilots flying F/A18 Super Hornets are practicing touch and go exercises on a runway that’s painted to look like an aircraft carrier.