Sailors attached to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97, the “Warhawks,” participated in Naval Air Station Lemoore (NASL) Appreciation Night at the Thursday Night Market in downtown Hanford.

VFA-97 provided a flyover for the event, the first one in five years. Military organizations were invited to set up booths and meet and greet the local community as well as partake in the festivities.

“Many of the Sailors and families that work at NAS Lemoore call Hanford home. This community is our community too,” said VFA-97 Commanding Officer Patrick O’Mara. “It was such a privilege for us to fly for our hometown and represent NAS Lemoore as well as give everybody a glimpse of our team and what we we’re about. This was a great evening with some great folks, right here in Hanford.”

Naval Air Station Lemoore Appreciation Night was established by Main Street Hanford to honor and show gratitude to the men and women of the U.S. military, with particular emphasis on those stationed onboard NASL.

“Every time I see them fly over, it makes me pause for a moment and really appreciate the brave service members who give so much to us,” said Shelly Johnson, executive director of Main Street Hanford. “All of us are moved by this experience and are happy that we were able to work with NAS Lemoore to bring this experience to Hanford. The base is our neighbor and a part of our community and we want them to know that. We are proud that they are here.”

Thursday Night Market Place, coordinated by Main Street Hanford, is the local premiere event held every Thursday during the late spring through early fall in downtown Hanford. This weekly event boasts a certified farmers’ market as well local entertainment and local vendors and activities for children.

The VFA-97 “Warhawks” are a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore. Established in 1967, they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary since their commissioning. As part of Carrier Air Wing Nine (CVW-9), they recently completed their 29th deployment, a WESTPAC cruise, in 2016. Currently, the squadron is ramping up for another deployment in 2018.

Naval Air Station Lemoore is the U.S. Navy’s West Coast Strike Fighter Master Jet Base, providing the infrastructure, products and services that enable Commander, Strike Fighter Wing Pacific squadrons to conduct operations in support of National Tasking. The installation enables readiness through quality of life services as well as fosters and strengthens collaborative community relationships.