The Navy League of the United States recently completed its 110th national convention in Honolulu, with more than 350 attending the event from June 19-24.
An overall theme this year was sharing ideas on best practices – successes that other councils could take back and utilize in their local area. Every council has their own unique skills and strengths. By collectively sharing these strengths with one another, the Navy League becomes stronger in accomplishing its mission.
During the convention, there were numerous educational seminars that helped achieve that goal. On Wednesday morning, Senior Director of Membership Sal Chairez provided a membership update and led an audience discussion on best practices for recruiting and retention. This session was followed by a presentation by LtCol Burl Hudson and MGySgt Dan Carrillo of the Wounded Warrior Regiment (Detachment Hawaii) on how the Marine Corps takes care of it wounded, sick, and ill Marines and Sailors and ensures they have a successful transition back to their military career or into the civilian world. They also gave a call to action on how groups like the Navy League can help and assist with this transition.
On Thursday morning, a Youth Programs track session was held. It provided both historical information of programs supported by the Navy League and the current status of our flagship youth programs. The briefing was presented by the combined team of Randy Hollstein, Chairman, Naval Sea Cadet Corps; Warren Savage, President, Naval Sea Cadet Corps; and Jim Monahan, Executive Director, Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Other presenters during the course of the event included Stan Mack, NSCC National Headquarters Representative Pacific Northwest, and ENS Miles Yamamoto, NSCC. The first part of the presentation focused on the history of Navy League involvement in youth programs and the actions which led to the creation of both the Naval Sea Cadet Corps and later the Navy League Cadet Corps. The actions of key Navy League leadership at that time were highlighted, and presented in context with the guidance and support received from Navy leadership at the time, to include then-CNO Admiral Arleigh Burke and Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz.
Later portions of the presentation then focused on how the Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the Navy League Cadet Corps are currently organized and managed, as well as highlighting the broad spectrum of training opportunities available to cadets. The session concluded with a presentation on the NJROTC program and Navy League involvement with sponsorship of NJROTC units. Results of the 2012 unit competitions were presented, along with a summary of Navy League Youth Medals presented in the past year.
On Saturday morning, the Legislative Affairs committee provided a very informative briefing on a topic of utmost importance to our nation, to our military, and to our sea services – sequestration. National Executive Director Dale Lumme began the session by providing an overview of what sequestration is and how our nation got to where we are today. Mr. Lumme was followed by Bill Ryzewic, who provided a comprehensive overview of how sequestration will impact our military and our defense industry if our elected officials don’t act soon. Mr. Ryzewic is a retired Navy senior executive and is well-versed in all aspects of Navy issues from personnel, to ship and aircraft maintenance, to operations. He also has extensive experience with the defense and Congressional budget process. Mr. Ryzewic was followed by Bill Waylett, senior director of regional activities, and training on how to effectively engage with your elected officials. The Public Affairs and Education committee also provided an excellent brief on how to share the Navy League story and mission with others with the community service outreach presentations.
The convention is a forum to honor all those who have gone above and beyond and contributed to the greater good of Navy League and its mission, to the sea service and our military overall, and to our country. At Thursday’s Hall of Fame and Honors Luncheon, we honored numerous Navy Leaguers and councils for their achievements. Council awards, council retention awards, individual retention awards, and the Donald M. Mackie Awards for Best Council Newsletter and Website were all presented. Ms. Jeanne Sharkey was inducted in to the Navy League Hall of Fame in recognition of more than 33 years of distinguished service to the Navy League of the United States and the maritime services of our nation.
At Friday’s Sea Services’ Awards Luncheon, Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen, civilian mariners, and Department of Defense civilians were honored for their significant contributions and individual achievements. Finally, at the American Patriot dinner on Saturday night, Ms. Mildred Courtney and Senator John McCain were honored by the Honolulu council for their significant contributions to our nation and to our military.
The convention was also a time of remembrance and honoring – and there is no more fitting place than on the island of Oahu. National President Phil Dunmire and Bellingham Council President Capt. Charles Murray, USCG (ret.) dedicated the Navy League Sea Service Memorial at the National Cemetery of the Pacific. This memorial was erected to honor members of the sea services past and present who have given their lives or sacrificed their way of life to ensure the safety of our nation. Funds for the memorial were raised entirely by the Bellingham council.
Navy Leaguers also received a first-hand account from one of the heroes of Pearl Harbor, Sylvester Puccio, who played a significant role in saving the battleship USS West Virginia and saving the lives of hundreds. Mr. Puccio was followed by naval history expert, Alan Lloyd, who presented an historical account of the Battle of Midway – one of the earliest, yet most significant battles during World War Two.
Our current heroes were honored during the Wounded Warrior reception held at the Pacific Aviation Museum on historic Ford Island. Ford Island was the centerpiece of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and served as a living reminder of those who served and sacrificed both then and now.
On Saturday, the annual meeting of members and the meeting of the board of directors was held. During these meetings, the new national officers, national vice-presidents, national directors, and regional and area presidents were sworn into office. The convention concluded on Sunday with an interfaith service.
The 2012 convention of the Navy League of the United States provided many opportunities – opportunities on how to share best practices to make our councils and our Navy League even better, opportunities to learn more about Navy League and our sea services, opportunities to honor those past and present. Though it was a long way to travel, those that attended benefited immensely. We look forward to another successful year and seeing everyone in Long Beach, Calif. next year!
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