MARINE CORPS AIR STATION MIRAMAR, Calif. – Retired Marine Maj. Gen. Charles F. Bolden, Jr., current NASA administrator, delivered an address at the opening ceremony during the 2012 Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Air Show, Oct. 13. This year’s theme is Marines in Flight: Celebrating 50 years of space exploration.
"The theme this year is awesome," said Bolden. "50 years of Marines in space is really special to me, and I'm honored that we would be chosen to be honored this year."
Bolden, a Marine aviator, test pilot and former commanding general of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, served for 36 years and logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time in support of Marine Corps flight operations and aircraft testing.
"The transformation for a Marine aviator to NASA gave me an opportunity to take the Marine Corps to the Space program," explained Bolden. "Taking our leadership principals that we learn, our care for our Marines and subsequently applying that to our people in NASA."
Bolden was selected and designated an astronaut by NASA in 1981 and flew four space flights and logged more than 680 hours in space.
"I did something I never dreamed of doing," said Bolden. "I never dreamed of being a Marine or an astronaut, but while I was at the Naval Academy, I was so impressed by my first command officer that I said, 'I want to be like him', and he happened to be a Marine."
Returning back to Miramar after 10 years, Bolden reflected over all the changes he witnessed at the air show.
"The biggest difference is the crowd," said Bolden. "As I look down the flight line and I see all the people and attractions, I don't remember the [Air Show] being this big. With the added [Marine Air Ground Task Force] demonstration, the people get an incredible opportunity to see every aspect of Marines in the air, on the ground and in logistics."
The performers and size of the Air Show may have changed, but the support of the local community is as strong as Bolden remembers.
"The greatest aspect of returning is the warmth and welcome of the community," Bolden said. "When I was the Commanding General here, we were working our way into the favor of the community, but now we have proven ourselves as legitimate and valued members of the community."