When Cmdr. Mark Nowicki left Chautauqua so many years ago, there's a good chance he had no idea that life would take him half way around the world and back again. Now, 24 years later and one utterly successful Naval career under his belt, he's finally returned to celebrate his parents', James and Annette Nowicki, 50 year anniversary.
Nowicki was a graduate of Jamestown High School in 1981. Following a short stint at West Point Naval Academy, Nowicki returned home to attend JCC for two years before going on to RIT to earn his four-year degree.
In 1989, Nowicki received his commission from Aviation Officer Candidate School in Pensacola, Fla. Upon the completion of flight school at Whiting Field, Fla. in 1990, he was designated as a Naval Aviator. However, he had only begun to create his long list of accolades that he earned during his career.
Nowicki's first fleet squadron was with the Grandmasters of HSL-46 in Mayport, Fla. During his time in Mayport, Nowicki was selected as the Pilot of the Year.
His first shore duty was with the Airwolves of HSL-40, which is the training squadron where all East Coast SH-60B pilots, air-crewmen and maintenance technicians are trained. As a result of his exemplary work, he was selected as the Flight Instructor of the Year. According to Capt. Michael Cerneck, for Nowicki to be selected as Instructor of the Year is a clear testament to his standout performance.
Nowicki subsequently served upon the USS Trenton as the Air Department Head. Under Nowicki's instruction, the Trenton was awarded the Chief of Naval Operation's Safety Award.
In 2000, Nowicki reported back to the HSL-46 as a department head where he cruised as the Officer in Charge of the Air Department on the USS Hayler and was deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. Subsequently, he was selected as the squadron's maintenance officer, which is recognized as the top department head job in a Navy squadron.
Following Operation Enduring Freedom, Nowicki was assigned to shore duty at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington, where he was a search and rescue pilot, completing over 20 search and rescue missions.
From 2007 to 2008, Nowicki was the Executive Officer of Naval Support Activity at Souda Bay located on the island of Crete, Greece.
To culminate his career, he served as the Executive Officer at DCMA Sikorsky.
Over the course of Nowicki's career, he's logged over 4,000 flight hours and has been awarded both the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and an Air Medal.
He's received letters of appreciation from presidents Obama, Bush, Clinton, Bush Sr., and Carter. He's been inducted as a knight of the honorable order of Saint Michael. He's served admirably in defense of his country and in return the highest achieving members of his country have thanked him.
"I have been truly blessed in both my career and my personal life," said Nowicki. "The Navy has given me numerous opportunities to serve and challenges to overcome, which in the end has helped me grow and become a better person. This is what I've always wanted to do."
As Cmdr. Nowicki returns to celebrate his parents' 50 year anniversary, we thank him for all he's done.