By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest
May 9, 2010 - EVERETT, Wash. (NNS) -- Community members from Puget Sound were recognized for their contributions to Navy installations and personnel in the area at the 2010 Commander, Navy Region Northwest (CNRNW) Friends of the Navy and Olympic Brass Choir Concert on Naval Station (NAVSTA) Everett May 6.
Members of the Navy League of the United States, city officials, former Navy service members, representatives of Navy installation partners, business owners and volunteers were among the 30 people recognized. Rear Adm. James Symonds, commander, NRNW, said those being recognized were as varied as their contributions, and their efforts all left an indelible impression on those serving in the Northwest improving quality of life and letting them know their service is appreciated.
"Today is a very special day for the Navy in the Northwest," said Symonds. "We do this to recognize and thank the many people who help us to do what we do best and that is to deploy ready forces forward to defend our country and make the world a better place. The U.S. Navy is truly a global force for good, and the people we are recognizing today are an enabling force for good; volunteers who gladly give of themselves in order to keep the Navy vibrant and viable in the Northwest and, by extension, throughout the Pacific and Indian Ocean theaters. Moreover, every day you do honor to the service of our Sailors and families."
"A lot of these people do this not for business purposes, not for financial purposes, they do it because they believe and want to give back," said Capt. Mark Olson, Naval Base Kitsap commanding officer.
"These are some of the heart and soul (members) of the community, and it's important that we tell them that we do recognize their contributions. It's also important for me to be here to meet with people from the east side of the sound supporting [NAVSTA] Whidbey Island and [NAVSTA] Everett."
Capt. Thomas Mascolo, NAVSTA Everett commanding officer, and Capt. Gerral David, Naval Air Station Whidbey Island commanding officer are scheduled to transfer this summer, and Symonds is scheduled to soon retire. With the upcoming departure of these members of Navy leadership in the Northwest, they said it was important to recognize these "friends" impact on their time here.
Of the 18 recipients who received their appreciation plaques from Symonds at the event, many said that they appreciated the recognition, but would have shown the same support even without it.
"My passion comes from my love of country and my deep admiration for these young men and women; for the sacrifices that they give every day so that we can enjoy the freedom that we so cherish," said Kathy Gambill past president of the Navy League of the United States Everett Council. "I just feel that everyone should want to contribute to humanity and to give back. That's why we're here. It's not about what we can get; it's about what we can give. These young men and women do such an amazing job, I'm in awe of their talent, their desire, their devotion and it's always heartfelt when you see someone that loves their country so much they would give their life. It's humbling, it's not about my contributions, it's about what they do every day; I don't know if I could do it. It's a difficult job, but I feel very blessed to have been given this opportunity to serve my country."
"If we don't [preserve history] now it will be lost, including all of the records of heroism of the flight crews who trained here from back in World War II up to now," said Win Stites, president of the PBY Memorial Foundation in Oak Harbor, who was recognized for his efforts in preserving the history of naval aviation with the foundation's command display on the NAS Whidbey Island Seaplane Base. "We have to keep this history alive because it's not in the history books. It's a memory of those who have gone before us."
The general consensus by those in attendance was that the military and civilian communities in the region show great support to each other and answer each other's calls for assistance.
"Naval Base Kitsap influences eight different local communities going all the way up to Poulsbo down to Gig Harbor and going out to the town of Shelton," said Olson. "We have a working, social and neighborly relationship with each one of them to a varying degree. In every case we have great community involvement, we have great community activism and every one of these towns has great support for the military."
"I think it's a very good, strong relationship. What's amazing is that probably 98 percent of our volunteers for everything in Oak Harbor are the military," said Beth Munns, of the Oak Harbor City Council and a past president of the Navy League of the United States, Oak Harbor Council, who was recognized for her efforts in both entities as well as assisting to organize an annual military appreciation picnic. "The city owes a huge thanks to that, but the city also tries to be attuned to the needs of the base and what's going on there. I think it's a give-and-give relationship on both sides."