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Our Opinion: A welcome return

January 09, 2002

The Blue Angels are back in town and we are glad to have them back.

The familiar blue and gold F/A-18 Hornets streaked across the Imperial Valley skies Saturday as the team headed toward Naval Air Facility El Centro to settle in for its winter training. The Angels always are welcome friends, and the pilots and support crews that make the Blue Angels' team are a part of the Imperial Valley community.

The Angels and the Imperial Valley have forged a symbiotic relationship. We supply the Navy's precision air team perfect weather, open flying space and uncluttered land over which to fly — the right conditions for the training the team must do.

In return, the Blue Angels become a part of the Imperial Valley.

The pilots and crews take part in local events, visit schools and do their part to promote the Imperial Valley. In March each year the team puts on an air show that has become one of the largest events in the Valley, and a family event at that. The Blue Angels are our local heroes and are treated as such by Valley residents, who have pride that we are a home to the team.

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The Blue Angels also bring attention to NAF El Centro, which has an important relationship with the rest of the Valley. The Navy base is one of the larger employers in the community and brings an economic boost to the area.

It also is fun to have the Blue Angels here, as we see them practice their maneuvers in our skies that people all around the country will see later.

Every time there is talk of base closures, we hold our collective breath. It would be a big hit to the Valley to lose the Navy base. We don't think that will happen. Many federal officials realize how important NAF El Centro is and how perfect its location is for pilot training. That the Blue Angels come here every winter is a sign of just how vital the base is. We are confident both the base and the Angels we be a part of the local community for years to come.

We are pleased to have the Blue Angels return at such a critical time in our nation's history. We are at war against terrorism. Some might pay the ultimate price for the cause.

We need to know that our military is up to the challenge. Seeing the blue and gold jets scream overhead as a symbol of our country's strength is important. It is a sign we are recovering and we will win this war.

Welcome home, Blue Angels.

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