Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward announced today that he has formed a Veterans Memorial Park Steering Committee, which will work to develop a framework for the park’s future management and oversight. The park has previously been managed by the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation, but recent issues have left the Foundation unable to properly maintain the park.
“Veterans Memorial Park should be first-class,” said Mayor Hayward. “It should be a beacon for freedom and a monument to those American ideals for which our veterans have fought and died. This committee will help us to ensure that we can properly manage Veterans Memorial Park and grow and improve the park over the coming years.”
In light of the recent award of a BP promotional fund grant to the Foundation, Mayor Hayward has reached an agreement with Foundation president John Pritchard to transfer the funds to the steering committee or a future management organization. Pritchard and City Administrator Bill Reynolds accepted a ceremonial check from BP this afternoon in Pensacola.
Recognizing the importance of Veterans Memorial Park to our community, Mayor Hayward took a leadership role in safeguarding the park’s future. “I want to thank John Pritchard and the Veterans Memorial Park Foundation for their past efforts,” said Mayor Hayward. “I’m looking forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure Veterans Memorial Park continues to be everything our community and our veterans deserve.”
Mayor Hayward has asked the steering committee to map out the structure of a new organization which will have responsibility for the maintenance of the park, and to prepare a recommendation such an organization’s formation, membership, and finances, as well as the development of a charter and bylaws. To ensure transparency and maintain public trust, Mayor Hayward has directed that both the steering committee and the subsequent organization hold all meetings in accordance with Florida sunshine laws, and meeting minutes and financial reports will be made available to the public.
The members of the steering committee are as follows:
Jack Brown is a former USMC F-4B/J Phantom and AV-8 Harrier pilot, with service in Vietnam. The son of a Naval Aviator, Jack was born in Pensacola and married into one of its premier service-oriented families. Jack served over a decade in the Marines prior to meeting his future wife while stationed in Pensacola, and joining the Vince Whibbs Automotive Group. He is an active member of the Marine Corps Aviation Association and the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association, and has been a member of the Military Advisory Committee of the Pensacola Chamber of Commerce. In addition, he has served in multiple community leadership positions including as President of the Parish Council at St. Paul Catholic Church, and Secretary of the Pensacola Suburban Rotary Club.
W. A. “Butch” Hansen retired after a 30 year career as a Navy Captain and Submariner who once commanded Submarine Squadron 20, and was a principle author of the 2007 Secretary of Defense Joint Defense Capability Study. Butch has directed a myriad of complex and ground-breaking efforts for the DOD and several other governmental agencies focusing on strategic planning, and cost effective resource allocation as part of his work as a Senior Fellow for LMI, a not for profit strategic consulting firm for government. He is the current Vice President and the President Elect of the Pensacola Chapter of the U.S. Naval Academy Alumni Association.
David Glassman is a CH-53E Helicopter Pilot and former MATSG-21 Group Executive Officer at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Dave retired from active duty as a Lieutenant Colonel in 2010. He is a current member of the Marine Corps League, and has been a leader in multiple veteran support and outreach projects and programs including the Esca/Rosa Independence Weekend (2008) which brought 87 severely wounded warriors to the area to participate in educational and recreational events; and is a board member for A-HERO (2010-Present), an injured veteran organization that provides rehabilitation through outdoor recreational activities. Dave also served on the leadership committee that brought the Marine Aviation Memorial Tower to Veteran’s Memorial Park.
Charlie Switzer is a Pensacola native and an 8 year veteran of the United States Navy and a Co-Trustee of the Switzer Brothers Charitable Foundation. He is currently an active volunteer for the National Flight Academy and has volunteered his efforts in support multiple veteran causes including the Independents Fund, a Wounded Warrior project. In addition, he has served on the University of West Florida Foundation, the Pensacola State College Foundation, and the Escambia Marine Institute and as Chairman of the Pensacola Beach Chapter of the Elks National Foundation.
Michael T. Swinehart is a veteran of the United States Air Force where he served as an Air Combat Intercept Director in the Air Defense Command’s 18th Fighter Interceptor Squadron for four years and, the Air Force Reserve for two years. Mike was a founding member of the Board of Directors of the Rayburn-Dirksen Institute of Applied Politics at the University of West Florida, and is currently the Escambia Vice President for Military Affairs of the Hurlburt Chapter of the Air Force Association and a member of the Navy “Tailhook” Association. Mike has a long list of projects supporting both active military and veteran causes including being the co-founder of “Operation Reindeer,” a support foundation for families of Pensacola active duty military personnel from 1994-2009. He also served as the co-creator and co-executive producer of “Blue Angels: A Year in the Life,” a four-part series that aired on the Military and Discovery Channels. In 2007, Mike received the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society Military Service Award.
Joseph Glover is the Deputy Chief of the Pensacola Fire Department and currently serves as a Senior Master Sergeant in the U.S. Air Force Reserves with 28 years of total service. He is currently the Superintendent of Transportation at the 403 Logistics Readiness Squadron at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.