As retired military, I’m amazed at the outpouring of support for the military who live and train at Whidbey before going into harm’s way — now a 71-year tradition. The pro-Navy internet Facebook, City of Oak Harbor/Island County resolutions, rallies and petitions have dwarfed the handful of “Ebey Reservists” who attempted this same litigation scheme in the ’90s. It’s not about the Growler; their goal is to shut down the OLF and NAS Whidbey if necessary.
The facts remain:
A. It’s not about the “Ebey Reserve.” The federal statute (and county ordinance) states the Reserve’s mission is to ‘preserve historical record from the 19th century to present.’ The Navy and OLF have been part of that record and are listed in the founding documents.
B. The “Growler” — many of the litigants attempted a similar scheme in the ’80s and ’90s when the Prowler was fully implemented, claiming the Prowler was “much noisier” — déjà vu.
C. The noise — the Growler is comparable to the Prowler and 6,000 OLF flights amounts to about 45 minutes a week — about five times less than the volume flown at OLF in the ’70s and ’80s. The 112-decibel noise at a Seahawks game lasts for hours, not to mention rock concerts, which many of the litigants have attended, or the loud music in their children’s earbuds.
D. The 68 percent of county economics and jobs driven by the Navy — most of the litigants are retired or independently wealthy.
It is about them, the litigants, a few rich landowners, several with law degrees who either failed to read their homeowner noise disclosures, simply don’t like the military and don’t care if critical training is reduced — coming from their ’60s era — or both of the above.
To the majority, your support and actions matter more than you can imagine both to our Whidbey sailors but also the Pentagon admirals who make basing decisions. The litigants are attempting to create an artificial “public opinion,” leveraging this to sway courts in a multiple lawsuit scheme. Your voice matters. Please sign a Pro Navy Petition. Call me at 929-8207 if you can’t find one.
Editor’s note: McDowell is a former longtime Island County commissioner.