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UVA alum Kalie Ward serves U.S. Navy training student aviators in Texas

Courtesy of U.S. Navy Office of Community Outreach.

Ensign Kalie Ward is serving in the U.S. Navy assigned to Training Squadron 28, where naval aviators learn the skills they need to fly missions around the world.

Ward earned a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from UVA in 2022 and joined the Navy two years ago.

“I joined the Navy to have an adventure, to serve something greater than myself and to push myself to be the best version of myself,” said Ward.

Ward, who is from Peachtree City, Georgia, serves as a student naval aviator assigned to VT 28, a U.S. Navy primary flight training squadron located at Naval Air Station Corpus Christi, Texas.

“I enjoy working with my peers to complete the missions that are given to us,” she said.

The aviation squadron’s primary mission is to train future naval aviators to fly as well as instill leadership and officer values, Navy officials explained. Students must complete many phases of flight training to graduate, including aviation preflight indoctrination, primary flight training and advanced flight training. After successfully completing the rigorous program, naval aviators earn their coveted “Wings of Gold.”

After graduation, pilots continue their training to learn how to fly a specific aircraft, such as the Navy’s F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter attack jet, the F-35 Lightning strike fighter jet or the SH-60 Seahawk helicopter. The aircraft take off from and land on Navy aircraft carriers at sea.

Navy aircraft carriers are designed for a 50-year service life. When the air wing is embarked, the ship carries more than 70 attack fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft, all of which take off from and land aboard the carrier at sea. With more than 5,000 sailors serving aboard, the aircraft carrier is a self-contained mobile airport.

Aircraft carriers are often the first response to a global crisis because of their ability to operate freely in international waters anywhere on the world’s oceans.

With 90 percent of global commerce traveling by sea and access to the internet relying on the security of undersea fiber optic cables, Navy officials continue to emphasize that the prosperity of the United States is directly linked to recruiting and retaining talented people from across the rich fabric of America.

Ward serves a Navy that operates far forward, around the world and around the clock, promoting the nation’s prosperity and security.

“We will earn and reinforce the trust and confidence of the American people every day,” Adm. Lisa Franchetti, chief of naval operations, said. “Together we will deliver the Navy the nation needs.”

Ward has many opportunities to achieve accomplishments during military service.

“My proudest accomplishment was taking a solo flight in the T-6 Texan aircraft,” said Ward. “It’s a pivotal moment when the command trusts you enough to take the aircraft out on your own.”

Ward can take pride in serving America through military service.

“Serving in the Navy means training to be able to support the brave men and women that have volunteered to serve this country,” said Ward.

Ward is grateful to others for helping make a Navy career possible.

“I would like to thank my dad, Greg Ward, for being a perfect role model for grit, work ethic and humility,” she said. “I also want to thank my mom, Katie, for being my biggest supporter. I couldn’t have done any of this without her. I’d like to thank the Quigleys as well for being my second family growing up and helping me realize my love of adventure and my desire to serve. Lastly, I would like to thank Mrs. Anastacia Murray and Mrs. Stephanie Sisk for being phenomenal women and teachers who pushed me to strive for new horizons.”

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.