Thursday, April 25, 2013

Recognizing our WWII Veterans


I want to share with you a truly inspiring and humbling experience I had during a recent trip to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. I had received an invitation from a World War II veteran in my hometown to come to D.C. and meet him and a group of veterans who were visiting their Memorial for the first time, all thanks to Honor Flight New England. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Honor Flight Network, it’s a national organization that brings World War II veterans to see the World War II Memorial.

I have to tell you, this program is something very special. I had the privilege of shaking hands with nearly all of those brave men and women as they saw their memorial for the first time. For me, it was a chance to recognize these patriots while connecting to the heritage and legacy of the men and women we refer to as “The Greatest Generation.”

During the tour I was able speak with many of the veterans and their families. One of the veterans I met was a woman who had worked at the Personnel Processing Center in Philadelphia. In my conversation with her, and in my conversations with other veterans, the pride they took in their service was very evident.

These men and women considered it their duty to sign up and were volunteers. Additionally, of the more than four million Navy personnel who served during the war, nearly 50 percent of those Sailors were from the Navy Reserve. These men and women and the service they gave is part of our history. We have a connection with these veterans and I see those same traits in the members of our present Reserve Force.

The core values we hold sacred today - of honor, courage and commitment - are aligned with the values of our World War II veterans. It is important that we recognize their service and sacrifice. They are our last living link to the experience of that historic war, and unfortunately, we lose more and more of them every day.

If you have the chance to volunteer for an Honor Flight trip, please do so. I guarantee it will be a rewarding experience. And, when you meet a veteran of World War II – take the opportunity to speak with them, listen to them and thank them for their service and sacrifice.


Monday, April 1, 2013

Year of the Military Woman

Each year during March we look back on the accomplishments of women in American history. In the Navy Reserve we are fortunate to have many women, both serving and retired, who are able to share their experiences and provide insights into their accomplishments and challenges.
This year’s observance is even more significant following the recent rescission of the restrictions on women in combat and the ramp up of women’s service aboard our submarines. As we celebrate the role of women in our Navy’s history, it’s easy to rattle off a list of notable “firsts,” or contributions. Take for instance, Lt. Cmdr. Barbara Allen Rainey who became the first female Naval aviator in 1974. Capt. Joy Bright Hancock became the first director of the Navy’s female Reserve program in 1942, and was the first female Naval officer to obtain the rank of Lt. Cmdr. A groundbreaker in every sense of the word, Hancock became the director of the Women Accepted for Emergency Volunteer Service (WAVES) in 1946 and founded Naval Aviation News magazine, which is still in circulation today. In 1917, Loretta Perfectus Walsh enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve to become the first active-duty Navy woman, and the first woman to serve in a non-nursing capacity in ANY of the armed services. She went on to be the first Chief Yeoman in the Navy as well.
While we can imagine the type of courage and determination it must have taken these women to serve back then, the truth is that the women in uniform today, the women who serve in the Navy Reserve and in all branches of service, embody those same characteristics. They possess the same spirit of determination, strength, perseverance and passion for serving their country as their predecessors.
This April the U.S. Navy Memorial will launch its exhibit, “Year of the Military Woman,” and the Naval Heritage Center will feature historical and modern photographs in addition to original artwork and recruiting posters from military collections, as well as uniforms and other rare artifacts.
Also, if you haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet, our CNRFC Public Affairs LCPO, MCC Sarah Langdon, wrote a great feature in the March TNR on the Navy Reserve’s unofficial women’s historian, retired YNCS April Maletz. Senior Chief Maletz, a remarkable woman and Sailor in her own right, has been a tireless steward of Navy women’s history and memorabilia.
Please share your Women’s History Month celebrations with us. We’d love to see your pictures and hear about what your commands and units did to recognize the contributions of women to our Armed Forces.
Take care and keep up the great work!