Citizens Protest Navy ‘Growler” Jet Operations on Whidbey Island | Guest column

Submitted by Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve

Citizens from Whidbey Island and the Puget Sound region will gather at the Navy’s Outlying Field at Coupeville, Whidbey Island, Friday May 9 at 1 p.m. to protest the Navy’s resumption of Growler EA-18G electronic attack jet operations.  As part of the protest, citizens will fly the American Flag upside-down – a signal of “dire distress” according to the US Flag Code.

“We are in dire distress because our homes and communities are being saturated with hazardous levels of noise and our elected officials seem to be powerless or unwilling to act,” said Michael Monson president of Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve.   “The fact that citizens, including many veterans, are willing to take this statement with our flag, demonstrates the seriousness of this problem.” he said.

Noise levels in homes have been documented at 101.8 decibels and outside at 134.2-decibels, far above the 85 decibels at which hearing loss begins.  Numerous health studies have also attributed stress, heart disease, hypertension, learning disorders and other health impacts to low flying military aircraft noise.

“It is outrageous and unacceptable that the military that is supposed to protect us is knowingly causing us harm and placing us in danger,” COER Board member Cate Andrews said.

Growler jets fly only a few hundred feet over roof-tops and more than 400 homes are located within the OLF’s accident potential zone.  Internal Navy records recently obtained by COER revealed numerous incidences of Growler mechanical problems and falling parts during flight.

The Navy’s controversial “touch-and-go” operations at the OLF were recently resumed after being halted for almost a year after COER sued the Navy over misrepresentations about noise and flights numbers.  The fact that the OLF was not used for almost a year refutes the Navy’s claim that use of the airstrip is essential, according to COER.

COER and a growing list of citizen organizations claim that Growler operations have harmed the health, economic welfare, tourism, property values, and natural environment of those living in and around the Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve, including  Victoria BC, Port Townsend, Camano Island, La Conner, Fidalgo Island, and the San Juan Islands.

See website… FYI re flag code.

“The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.” 36 US Code §176 (a)