Two Italian officers received an incredible honor Friday, May 9, when their country’s ambassador to the United States attended their Winging Ceremony at Naval Air Station Whiting Field.
His Excellency Claudio Bisogniero attended the ceremony in which Lt. j.g. Lorenzo Duranti and Lt. j.g. Matteo Ricasoli from the Italian Navy and twelve American aviators were designated helicopter pilots
NAS Whiting Field might seem like a strange place to receive a foreign dignitary at first glance, however, when looking closer at the flight instruction Training Air Wing FIVE performs, it becomes clearer. In addition to teaching 100 percent of the Navy, Marine and Coast Guard helicopter pilots, the wing trains is currently training 44 foreign students from six different countries: Norway, Italy, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, India and France. Italy has the largest number of students at 14.
The bond between the two countries was a point of emphasis as Bisogniero addressed the assembled families and guests of the newly minted pilots.
“Together we will continue to work and train, side-by-side in a long standing partnership for justice and freedom,” Bisogniero stated.
The two-day visit also encompassed a reception with all the Italian students at Naval Aviation Schools Command in Pensacola and an orientation detailing the training process all students go through in primary training with TRAWING-5 including time in a T-6B “Texan II” simulator.
A former officer in the Italian Army, Bisogniero entered the Italian Foreign Service in May 1978. He has served in embassies across the globe, including Beijing, China; Brussels, Belgium; and Washington D.C. prior to his appointment as the NATO Deputy Secretary General in 2007. He was named the Ambassador of Italy to the United States and presented his credentials to President Barrack Obama Jan. 18, 2012.
As a fan of both sailing and flying, Bisogniero appreciates the area’s history and military mission.
“I have the deepest respect for the high skills the men and women have who defend your country,” he said. “I am extremely impressed with NAS Whiting Field and the flight training program. The historical value Whiting Field has for both the school and the training done here for the students from so many countries are part of the solid and long-standing friendships our countries maintain.”
Press Release, May 12, 2014; Image: Wikimedia