Birklund selected for Aviation Major command

Friday, April 1, 2005
Navy Captain Gilmore N. Birklund

Captain Gilmore N. Birklund, United States Navy, a native of Thayer, Mo., was recently selected for one of the U.S. Navy's highest honors. Recently promoted to Captain, Birklund was among a select few who screened for Aviation Major Command in October 2004.

On June 07, Captain Birklund will take Command of Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia located in the Indian Ocean. Captain Birklund is the son of Manila resident Cliff Birklund and son-in-law of Batesville, Ark., residents Loyd and Billie Estes. He is a 1977 graduate of Thayer High School and a 1982 graduate of Southwest Missouri State University.

NSF Diego Garcia provides critical seaport services to Military Sealift Command ships, providing support to as many as 20 ships in its harbor. The command also runs an airfield used by Navy aircraft and U.S. Air Force bombers. Captain Birklund will oversee fifteen tenant commands comprised of over 3000 U.S. Navy, Air Force and civilian personnel. He will be responsible for supporting some of the most dynamic forward deployed operations in the world, including operation Enduring Freedom.

Diego Garcia is a British Indian Ocean Territory located at 7 Degrees South Latitude, off the tip of India. Diego Garcia is exclusively a military reservation in the Chagos Archipelago. The heavily vegetated island has an area of 6,720 acres. The average elevation is four feet above sea level.

The maximum elevation is 22 feet. This island is horseshoe shaped with a perimeter of approximately 40 miles.

Diego Garcia is a living coral atoll, the coral reefs and island are made up of trillions of living organisms. Once an ancient volcano, all that is left is the atoll surrounding a central lagoon. Thanks to its tropical location and heavy rainfall (about 100 inches per year); the island is heavily vegetated with coconut palm and ironwood trees.

From the air, Diego Garcia takes on the rough outline of a footprint on the ocean surface -- thus its nickname "Footprint of Freedom". The island stretches 15 miles, north to south, and about 35 miles from tip to tip of its horseshoe shape.

Birklund is a navy helicopter aviator and the former Commanding Officer of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron TWO, the navy's largest combined, multi-mission helicopter squadron. Captain Birklund most recently completed a tour at Allied Command Transformation, North America's strategic NATO Command. His duties included the coordination of critical joint, multi-national exercises and incorporation of cutting edge experimentation and technology. Additionally, he commanded the NATO Training and Coordination Group in Brussels Belgium which is responsible for coordinating equipment and resources for the IRAQI government and security forces.

Captain Birklund is married to the former Renee Estes from Mammoth Spring, Ark. They have two sons, Gregory and Jacob.

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