PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — A Hinesville native is serving “where the future of naval aviation begins” at Naval Air Station Patuxent River.
Chief Petty Officer Andrae Keith is a culinary specialist at NAS Patuxent River, responsible for cooking and in charge of ordering, storing and issuing food and supplies.
Located at the mouth of the Patuxent River, the 14,500-acre complex is host to the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division and Naval Air Systems Command. These entities provide the full spectrum of acquisition management, research and development capabilities, air and ground test and evaluation, aircraft logistics and maintenance management.
“I love to cook and give the sailors a sense of home away from home,” Keith said. “There is nothing else I’d rather do in the Navy. I have a really strong passion for the culinary field.”
NAS Patuxent River is home to the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School, the Atlantic Test Range and 50 other tenant commands. The facilities at Patuxent River are used by foreign governments, academic institutions and private industry for similar projects and deliver installation management enabling tenants to achieve integrated warfare systems and life cycle sustainment.
Keith said he and other sailors are proud to serve at a command that defends America at all times.
“I like the people that I work with,” Keith said. “It is a close-knit working environment. It is interesting to see how civilian and military work together.”
With more than 800 employees assigned to the host naval air station staff, the civilian and military “Pax Pros” work to ensure that security, safety and services are provided to all 20,000-plus employees working at 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.”
In the Navy, Keith is learning about being more of a leader through handling numerous responsibilities.
“I have developed a lot of leadership skills while coming up through the ranks,” he said. “I have learned a lot about diversity since joining the Navy.”