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Homecoming Football Game to be Saluted by U.S. Navy Fighter Jets

Homecoming is the time when former students traditionally visit their alma mater for football games, reunions and parades, and one alumnus in particular will be making a spectacular return trip to Old Dominion University Saturday, Nov. 7.

Decorated naval aviator Capt. Kenneth R. Whitesell from Carrier Air Wing One at Oceana Naval Air Station will offer his own special salute to ODU's first football homecoming in the form of a flyover in one of two Navy Hornet jets prior to the kickoff of the Monarchs' game against North Carolina Central.

Whitesell, who earned his bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering in 1983, is the commander of Carrier Air Wing One and a former Navy "Top Gun." He has accumulated more than 2,800 flight hours in the F-14, more than 900 hours in the F/A-18F and over 880 arrested landings.

Another ODU alumnus, Cmdr. J.J. Cummings, the commander of Strike Fighter Squadron 11 at Oceana, which supplied the other jet, will observe the flyover from the stadium.

Cummings, who holds a master's degree in education from ODU (2006), has more than 3,500 total flight hours and 663 carrier landings.

After the flyover, plans call for Whitesell to return to S.B. Ballard Stadium at Foreman Field - by a decidedly different, and slower, mode of transportation - between the third and fourth quarters. He, Cummings and one other pilot who is taking part in the flyover will then be recognized on the field.

Dick Whalen, the university's director of military affairs, arranged for the pregame flight, along with ODU Naval ROTC Capt. Mike Barea and Lt. Cmdr. Jeremy Jameson.

"This will be a unique treat for ODU's homecoming crowd to be honored by a colorful flyover of U.S. Navy Hornet aircraft," said Whalen. "The participation of two ODU alumni, Capt. Whitesell and Cmdr. Cummings, provides evidence of the university's long history of involvement with our armed forces."

This article was posted on: November 5, 2009

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