Capt Michael Baretela

This Month’s Luncheon Speaker is Capt Michael Baretela, Commanding Officer Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific.

Commissioned as POLARIS Missile Facility Pacific (POMFPAC) in 1964, the POLARIS A3 missile facility was in full production and providing the Fleet with high-quality missiles by December of that year. Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC) provides assembly, storage, checkout, onload and offload of Trident missiles; ensures custody, accountability and control of nuclear weapons and material; publishes and maintains START procedures and conducts START inspections; and provides technical engineering services for guidance, missile, and launcher support equipment.

Captain Michael Baretela reported to his first Submarine, USS ALASKA (SSBN 732) (GOLD) in July 1993 and made five Strategic Deterrent Patrols out of Bangor, Washington. In 1998, Captain Baretela was selected for transfer to the Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) community. Captain Baretela has served 6 tours tours with the Strategic Systems Programs Office, the last one as Commanding Officer of Program Management Office, Strategic Systems Programs (PMOSSP), Shipboard Systems.

In 2009 Captain Baretela reported for an Operation Iraqi Freedom Individual Augmentee (IA) tour. He was responsible for ensuring that every tactical ground vehicle in Iraq was equipped with life-saving Counter Radio Controlled Improvised Explosive (IED) Device Electronic Warfare (CREW) systems

He holds multiple degrees, BS Mechanical Engineering from University of Buffalo, MS Engineering Management from Catholic University, and MS Electrical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

This is Captain Baretela’s second tour at Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific (SWFPAC), Silverdale, WA. He served as the Weapons Officer from 2006 to 2008. He assumed command of SWFPAC on 21 January 2013.

Doors open at 11 am and the program begins at 11:45 at the Bangor Conference Center Trident Ball Room

Registration!

  • Please call Evergreen Transfer & Storage at 360 674-2762 for your lunch registration.
  • Please call at your earliest convenience.
  • Cut off for reservations is Sep 2
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Three U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Persons of the Quarter (EPOQs) were recognized by the Navy League of the United States Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council during an August 12th luncheon. Assembled left to right: Council President, Larry Salter; Thirteenth Coast Guard District Command Master Chief, BMCM Charles Lindsey; MK2 Christopher Morales, Coast Guard Station Seattle second quarter 2014 EPOQ; AMT1 Christian Williams, Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles first quarter 2014 EPOQ; SK1 Brett Lively, Maritime Force Protection Unit--Bangor third quarter 2014 EPOQ; and Rear Admiral Richard Gromlich, Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.

Three U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Persons of the Quarter (EPOQs) were recognized by the Navy League of the United States Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council during an August 12th luncheon. Assembled left to right: Council President, Larry Salter; Thirteenth Coast Guard District Command Master Chief, BMCM Charles Lindsey; MK2 Christopher Morales, Coast Guard Station Seattle second quarter 2014 EPOQ; AMT1 Christian Williams, Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles first quarter 2014 EPOQ; SK1 Brett Lively, Maritime Force Protection Unit–Bangor third quarter 2014 EPOQ; and Rear Admiral Richard Gromlich, Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District.

Silverdale, Washington. Three U.S. Coast Guard Enlisted Persons of the Quarter (EPOQs) were recognized by the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council during an August 12th luncheon held at the Bangor Plaza on Naval Station Kitsap–Bangor. One of the missions of the NLUS is to support the men and women of the sea services and their families. Each awardee was presented a soaring eagle statuette engraved with their names by Council President, Larry Salter.

Senior leaders representing each awardee’s respective command were present to honor the stand-outs for their hard work and individual efforts, including luncheon guest speaker, Commander, Thirteenth Coast Guard District, Rear Admiral Richard Gromlich. Gromlich, and District Thirteen Command Master Chief, Boatswain’s Mate Master Chief (BMCM) Charles Lindsey, were invited to speak this month in honor of the Coast Guard’s 224th birthday August 4th.

The Thirteenth Coast Guard District, headquartered in Seattle, WA, oversees U.S. Coast Guard operations and personnel covering four states (Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana), more than 4,400 miles of coastline, 600 miles of inland waterways, and a 125 mile international maritime border with Canada. EPOQs from three Seattle area Coast Guard commands were recognized at the luncheon. The Coast Guard established the Enlisted Person of the Year (EPOY) program, which is fed by EPOQs from the preceding year, to recognize exemplary men and women from the active and reserve enlisted work force.

Nominees reflect the Coast Guard’s core values of Honor, Respect, and Devotion to Duty. Only those enlisted personnel who demonstrate sustained exceptional standards of proficiency and conduct, and whose military appearance and bearing are consistently impeccable, are nominated. Each unit’s winner then competes at the next higher organizational level until one Coast Guard-wide active duty and one reserve EPOY are selected.

Aviation Maintenance Technician First Class Petty Officer (AMT1) Christian Williams, of Charles City, IA, is the Coast Guard Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles first quarter 2014 EPOQ. He was introduced by his Leading Chief, AMTCS Ron Frietas. The station’s Executive Officer, CDR Brian Edmiston, and Command Master Chief, AMTCM Lawrence “LP” Moroles were also present.

According to the citation, AMT1 Williams is assigned as the Night Shift Supervisor, a role entrusted only to the station’s top performing First Class Petty Officers. He overcame chronic personnel shortages, dilution of experience, and numerous maintenance challenges to lead his team of five mechanics through several MH-65D helicopter heavy maintenance evolutions that included two engine replacements, two 600 hour inspections, and numerous Technical Compliance Inspections. His sound judgment and insightful decision-making inspired collaborative efforts under these demanding conditions.

Williams’ leadership resulted in improved aircraft reliability/readiness that continually surpassed Commandant’s aircraft availability targets. Frietas praised Williams for his contributions to the station. “Chris is like a Swiss Army knife on the hangar deck. When we need something fixed, we send Chris. When there is a leadership challenge on the night shift, we’ll put Chris up there. He’s the guy you want in your shop. His motor never stops; he’s like the [Seattle Seahawks running back] Marshawn Lynch of the hangar deck.”

The Coast Guard has been present at Port Angeles for over 150 years. The current Air Station/Sector Field Office Port Angeles is a dual-mission unit charged with both Operational and Support responsibilities. Operational responsibilities include conducting Search and Rescue, Law Enforcement/Homeland Security and Resource Protection activities in an area that includes the Strait of Juan De Fuca and the northwestern coast of Washington around the Olympic Peninsula to the mouth of Puget Sound. The unit also provides logistical support to other Coast Guard Sector Puget Sound units located on the Olympic and Quimper Peninsulas and the northwest coast of Washington.

Storekeeper First Class Petty Officer (SK1) Brett Lively, of Beaverton, OR, is the Maritime Force Protection Unit (MFPU)–Bangor third quarter 2014 EPOQ. He was introduced by his Division Officer, LT Rob Baysden. The unit’s Commanding Officer, CDR Michael Schoonover, and Command Master Chief, Electronics Technician Senior Chief Petty Officer (ETCS) Ryan Allen were also present, as well as his Leading Chief, Health Services Technician Chief (HSC) Phillip Hershberg.

Schoonover emphasized the importance of Lively’s role in the unit. “We’re run just like the Army; it’s all about the logistics and the ability to get fuel, parts, everything to our boats moving and be able to get out on our mission.” “Petty Office Lively managed over a one million dollar budget every year to make that happen, as well as millions and millions of dollars’ worth of property that has to be accounted for to very high standards. And that’s all the responsibility of a First Class Petty officer!”

According to his citation, Lively also leveraged his abilities as an exceptional leader by mentoring the Supply Division Head and subordinates on required financial management activities. He displayed a strong work ethic and commitment to excellence by routinely working during liberty hours on projects not always fully recognized by the crew, including the proper acquisition of $900,000 worth of supplies and services, providing financial documents to USCG Station Seattle for future MFPU projects, as well as conducting all hands training on property management.

Lively also certified three separate accounts for the quarterly pipeline certification, including both the USCGC SEA FOX and USCGC SEA DEVIL. He provided expert oversight and management to both cutters and ensured they met their fiscal responsibilities while maintaining the high operational tempo required by the Transit Protection System mission.

MFPU Bangor conducts maritime security activities for submarines transiting the Puget Sound waterway. The unit is composed of more than 70 active-duty Coast Guard personnel, including two 87-foot Marine Protector Class cutters, USCGC SEA DEVIL and USCGC SEA FOX. MFPU Bangor is a unique, single-mission unit specially trained and equipped to provide security for west coast TRIDENT submarine operations in inland waterways.

Machinery Technician Second Class Petty Officer (MK2) Christopher Morales, of Yakima, WA, is the U.S. Coast Guard Station Seattle second quarter 2014 EPOQ. He was introduced by the station’s Commanding Officer, LT Ben Cromwell. Executive Officer LT(junior grade) Mark Leahey, and Operations Chief, Boatswain’s Mate Chief (BMC) Cory Evers were also present.

Morales’ citation details how he applied his experience from prior units to assist in the complete overhaul of Station Seattle’s Communications Watch stander qualification process. As one of the first members at Station Seattle to earn the standardized Coast Guard Communication’s Watch stander Qualification, he served as a board member, playing a direct role in preparing and evaluating 10 shipmates for their qualification boards. Also as Acting Duty Section Engineer, he ensured continuity of supervision and the proper, timely completion of all planned maintenance procedures and repairs.

Cromwell explained how Morales exemplified the service’s values. “Our current Commandant has three watch-words: service to nation, duty to people, commitment to excellence; and that really defines who Chris is. “

Station Seattle was established in 1989. The station is co-located with Sector Seattle on the waterfront at Pier 36. Station Seattle has three 41-foot utility boats, two 25-foot Response Boats–Homeland Security (RB-HS), and two 25-foot Response Boats–Small (RB-S).

Station Seattle’s primary mission is Homeland Security within Puget Sound. They provide harbor patrols of the entire Puget Sound in conjunction to providing escorts to Naval and commercial vessels. Station Seattle also supports safe boating patrols in large marine events in the Seattle area–most visible being the Seafair hydroplane races.

 

Posted by: arbeam | August 30, 2014

26-27 Aug: Astoria Area Coast Guard Tour

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Our latest tour to Astoria, Oregon  over two days was really four tours in one all involving USCG facilities and 13 Navy Leaguers attended. We started Monday morning, August 25th, with the Columbia River Air Station just west of Astoria where the rescue helicopters are stationed. Our tour guide here was one of the pilots of these Astoria_CG_2014__90amazing 63’ humming birds, LT Adriana Knies. We had a close-up look at the helos, MH-60T Jayhawks, and a chance to hear from and talk to some of the rescue swimmers who’s training and capabilities are truly amazing. The rescue swimmers are the folks who are lowered or jump into the water (or maybe the side of a cliff), they are physically and mentally fit to an unnatural degree, they are fully qualified EMT’s and they are totally dedicated to saving lives which they do on a regular basis. Our guide during this part of the tour was AC3 Brian Rodriquez, who explained that the 6-month basic training course has a dropout rate of 75%, includes mountain training and requires recertification every 15 months. This kind of reminds me of the Navy SEALS BUDs basic training.

Although this portion of the tour was focused on the search and rescue mission, Sector Columbia River executes virtually the full range of Coast Guard missions in a uniquely challenging and complex maritime environment.  Its Command Center at the air station overlooks the world famous Columbia River Bar and “Graveyard of the Pacific”.  The Sector ensures Maritime Safety, Security and Environmental Protection from the Pacific Ocean to coastal Oregon and southern Washington and associated ports, 420 miles of coastline, and throughout the Columbia, Snake and Willamette River systems to Idaho.

Later the same day we toured the Aids to Navigation Station in Astoria (think Buoys and Light Houses). Although this subject may seem esoteric to some, it turned out to be a very interesting experience. The mechanics and machinery used to keep the buoys and other navigation aids working was an intriguing topic to learn about from some very knowledgeable people. Our guide here was BM2 Jonathan Fairbank. I was particularly interested to learn how the buoys in the Puget Sound shipping channel, in 600’ of water, are able to stay put in fairly significant currents with aircraft carrier sized ships buzzing by and depending on them to stay in the right traffic lane. This station is the home Port for the USCG Buoy Tender Fir.

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Tuesday morning found us back on the Washington side of the river at the Cape Disappointment National Motor Lifeboat School. Our tour guide was the unit CO, BOSN4 Kevin Clark, a 30-year Coast Guard veteran. This is the only school for rough MLB 47weather surf rescue operations in the country and students, up to 150 per year, occasionally come from Canada and other countries. Of the five classes available, the Heavy Weather Coxswain Course is the “meat and potatoes of the school.” The course provides students with the specific skills needed to operate the motor lifeboat in the rough weather environment for which it was designed. The course stresses rough weather towing, surf operations, motor lifeboat handling, and risk management. The goal of the Coasties attending this school is the “Surfman” designation; there are currently only 200 Surfmen in the entire Coast Guard. The 47-footer is the current MLB in use at the school taking the place of the 44-footer in 1996. The Columbia River bar, aka the “Graveyard of the Pacific,” provides an ideal rough weather training environment with its deep river channel, rock jetties, coastal surf zones, and waves that can often exceed 20 feet. Our tour began with a xLW-11.jpgpresentation of the school’s history and function and then moved into the amazing 47’ self-righting motor lifeboats that are currently used in all of the 20 river bar surf stations in the country. We also saw some impressive videos of these boats in action and then were treated to a tour of one of these boats.

The day ended with a self-guided tour of one of the two lighthouses at Cape Disappointment.

Posted by: arbeam | August 27, 2014

Coast Guard MFPU Bangor welcomes special visitor

Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Caraballoa (left), a machinery technician assigned to Coast Guard Maritime Forces Protection Unit Bangor in Silverdale, Wash., explains how to operate a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft -- Screening Vessel to Christopher Marten, a Washington state resident with exceptional needs, while underway in Hood Canal, July 9, 2014.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Caraballoa (left), assigned to Coast Guard Maritime Forces Protection Unit Bangor in Silverdale, Wash., explains how to operate a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft — Screening Vessel to Christopher Marten, while underway in Hood Canal, July 9, 2014.

His eyes lit up as he climbed into the driver’s seat.  He took over the controls and carefully split the throttles, spinning the boat in circles. A huge grin spread across his face. With a Coast Guard ball cap resting neatly on his head, Christopher Marten felt like a member of the crew.

Marten TourChristopher Marten, a Washington state resident with exceptional needs, toured a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft — Screening Vessel from Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor in Silverdale, Wash., while underway in Hood Canal. Marten and his father were invited to get underway on the SPC-SV after a MFPU crew member befriended Marten.

“It is easy to take things for granted some days and to not see yourself as necessarily important,” said Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles Buchmeier, a boatswain’s mate assigned to Coast Guard Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor in Silverdale, Washington. “And then someone like Chris comes into your life and is so excited about everything you do, which feels great.”

When Chris and Buchmeier met months before, neither of them could have predicted that their friendship would lead to this special opportunity to share a common interest: the Coast Guard.

Buchmeier met Chris, a 46-year-old grocery bagger with exceptional needs, during a routine trip to a local grocery store.  “Chris is always helpful, smiling and engaging with people,” said Buchmeier. “He was very excited the first time he learned I was in the Coast Guard.”

Chris would greet Buchmeier when he visited the store and follow him around, exclaiming that the Coast Guard was “number one!” They developed a friendly relationship.

One day while walking into the store, Buchmeier saw Chris leaving. He quickly returned to his car and retrieved an old Coast Guard ball cap of his. Chris was climbing into his father’s truck when Buchmeier caught up with him and gave him the hat.

Christopher Marten, practices line handling techniques

Christopher Marten, practices line handling techniques

Marten also learned how to drive the SPC-SV and operate its onboard weapons system during his day underway on the small boat.

Chris’ father, Norman Marten, a former Marine and member of the Bremerton Olympic Peninsula Navy League, witnessed the gesture. His Navy League chapter sponsors MFPU Bangor, providing them with support and resources. Norman had met the commanding officer of MFPU Bangor, Cmdr. Thomas Sullivan, at previous events, and called to thank him for Buchmeier’s kind gift.

“He basically said Petty Officer Buchmeier made Chris’ day by giving him his ball cap,” said Sullivan. “It’s the little things like that that don’t often make it back to the commanding officer, but that did.”

Sullivan invited Norman and Chris to MFPU Bangor for a tour and an underway trip on a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft – Screening Vessel. “It was my way of giving back in one small, but important, way,” said Sullivan.  “I’ve known Chris’ father for three years, and I’ve seen how supportive his Navy League chapter is of us.”

Three weeks before Norman and Chris’ visit, Buchmeier finished his coxswain qualification for the SPV-SC. The small boat coxswain is responsible for the safe operation of the vessel, as well as the overall safety of all crewmembers and passengers.

“I’ll never forget the look in Chris’ eyes when he walked down the pier and saw me standing next to the SPC-SV,” said Buchmeier. “It was just pure happiness and enjoyment.”

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua Sanders and Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel Caraballoa, machinery technicians assigned to MFPU Bangor, volunteered to be crewmembers for the special VIP visit.  Chris, Norman, Sullivan and the crew boarded the vessel, donned life jackets and cruised into Hood Canal. That’s when Chris climbed into the driver’s seat. Caraballoa explained the controls to Chris and let him drive around in circles under the proud and watchful eye of Buchmeier.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua M. Sanders demonstrates how to use the weapons system

Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua M. Sanders demonstrates how to use the weapons system

Chris also learned about the vessel’s onboard systems and polished his seamanship skills by assisting in line handling evolutions at the end of the trip.

After mooring to the dock, the crew surprised Chris by advancing him to the honorary rank of petty officer 2nd class.

“A lot of what we do is secret squirrel stuff,” said Sullivan, referring to the MFPU’s primary mission of escorting Navy submarines. “Whenever we get the opportunity to showcase what we do, the crew gets a lot of return for that. This was Coasties volunteering their time to help out Buchmeier and his friend.”

On the way back to the MFPU office, Chris greeted passersby and showed off his new rank insignia. He could be heard along the pier proclaiming, “Coast Guard number one!”

Christopher Marten (center left), a Washington state resident with exceptional needs; Cmdr. Thomas P. Sullivan (back), commanding officer of Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor in Silverdale, Wash.; Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles T. Buchmeier (right), a boatswain's mate; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua M. Sanders (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Caraballoa (center right), machinery technicians, pose for a photo aboard a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft--Screening Vessel moored at MFPU Bangor

Christopher Marten (center left), a Washington state resident with exceptional needs; Cmdr. Thomas P. Sullivan (back), commanding officer of Maritime Force Protection Unit Bangor in Silverdale, Wash.; Petty Officer 3rd Class Charles T. Buchmeier (right), a boatswain’s mate; and Petty Officer 2nd Class Joshua M. Sanders (left) and Petty Officer 2nd Class Daniel M. Caraballoa (center right), machinery technicians, pose for a photo aboard a 64-foot Special Purpose Craft–Screening Vessel moored at MFPU Bangor

For the crew of MFPU Bangor, it was another day on the water, an opportunity to raise the visibility of the Coast Guard and a way to give back to those who support the Service. But for Chris, it was an opportunity to live out a dream and spend the day with a friend.

US Coast Guard News article by Petty Officer 3rd Class Katelyn Shearer

 

 

Posted by: arbeam | August 27, 2014

Northwest Navy Band Schedule

Northwest Navy Band Passage

August 28, 2014 6 P.M.

Don’t miss Passage at the Music in Manette concert series held at the scenic Whitey Domstad Park.  Bremerton, WA.

August 29, 2014 1 P.M.

Deception Brass teams up with Bainbridge Island Museum of Art to honor our men and women in uniform and their families for Military Appreciation Day.

August 30, 2014 1 P.M.

Deception Brass gives Bremerton a little taste of New Orleans at the Blackberry Festival.  Bremerton, WA.

August 31, 2014 3 P.M.

Make your summer memorable by joining us at Fort Flagler State Park for an afternoon of American classics!  Nordland, WA.

August 31, 2014 4:30 P.M.

The party continues with Passage center stage at the Blackberry Festival.  Bremerton, WA.

USS Turner Joy Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academy

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) — Navy Region Northwest Chief selectees graduated a 2014 USS Turner Joy Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academy held aboard USS Turner Joy (DD 951), Aug. 22.

Commands throughout the Navy chose 47 selectees to participate in this year’s academy, which was broken into two classes, which entails living aboard the Vietnam-era destroyer for six days while participating in community relation projects, ship preservation, leadership training, reenactments of Vietnam-era operations and heritage projects relating to the U.S. Navy and its Chiefs Mess.

More than 50 mentors along with friends and family attended the graduation ceremony held on the pier in front of the Turner Joy museum.

Read More…

Posted by: arbeam | August 27, 2014

CNO’s Losing Battle To Avoid A Hollow Navy

Greenert Nav Plan

Greenert’s Navigation Plan Makes the Best of a Terrible Hand

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral Jonathan Greenert has adopted the lingo of marine navigation to bring organization to his thinking about fleet priorities. His “Sailing Directions” provide top-line guidance, with occasional “Navigation Plans” to indicate programmatic implementation of the Sailing Directions. Then there are the periodic “Position Reports” to take stock of how well the Navy is doing in pursuing his priorities.

CNO Nav PlanRecently, the Navy released his “Navigation Plan for 2015-2019” in order to “…describe how Navy’s budget submission for Fiscal Year (FY) 2015-2019 pursues the vision of CNO’s Sailing Directions.” Essentially a summary of priorities for the budget cycle currently in play, the document reveals the clear priorities of this CNO, and sends a message to the American people and their representatives about how the Navy will do its best to remain combat ready and forward deployed in the face of both fiscal austerity and uncertainty. Read More…

NHBBREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) — There are two old adages shared in the greater Puget Sound area regarding earthquakes. One is that it’s not a matter of ‘if’ as much as ‘when.’

The other states that if there’s a sizable earthquake in your area, there are two structures that need to remain standing and a hospital is one of them (the other is the jail).

Naval Hospital Bremerton preemptively prepares as much as possible for the ‘if’ factor and has also proactively ensured the military treatment facility is still functional after an earthquake with a seismic retrofitting project. Read More…

Posted by: arbeam | August 17, 2014

“8th and I” is an unforgettable experience

Sometimes, events that affect us the most have a difficult time finding their way to the page. It’s been a week since Dustin and I were invited to the Commandant of the Marine Corps General Amos’s house to welcome First Sea Lord, Sir George Zambellas, from the UK and to watch an evening parade at “8th and I,” the “Oldest Post of the Corps.” Even after seven days and driving 600 miles from Washington, D.C., to Maine, I am still profoundly moved by what I experienced.

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It is difficult to put into words because the parade involves all the senses. It’s the sound of the cannons firing and the way you feel it in your sternum. It’s the smell of the smoke rolling in the wind. It’s a flag snapping high above the parade field. And it’s dozens of soldiers perfectly aligned, marching in step, without a single head bouncing up out of line.

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It’s the music of “The President’s Own” United States Marine Corps Band and “The Commandant’s Own” Drum and Bugle Corps, and the haunting sound of a singular bugler, lit only by one beam of light, playing “Taps” from atop the barrack’s roof.

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But mostly, it’s the Silent Drill Platoon.

I got to know General Amos’s wife this year when she selected “Dinner with the Smileys” to be on her recommended reading list for military spouses. When I told Dustin we had been invited to the evening parade, at first he didn’t believe me. This is a man who has done many exciting things in his life, and although he is in the Navy, he is not afraid to admit that the Marines, and especially the Silent Drill Platoon, have them all beat.

“What you are going to see,” Dustin told me, “you will never forget.”

Dustin looked sharp in his choker whites as we arrived at the Commandant’s house for a reception before the parade. But when a Marine offered to escort me to my seat, Dustin smiled knowingly. I love the Navy, and I’ve been a Navy dependent for 37 years, but those Marines — well, there’s nothing quite like them. If a bear jumped out of the bushes, I was sure this Marine by my side could stop it with one hand and not miss a step or release my arm. In fact, I overhead someone behind me say that the Marine Corps Barracks is the safest block in Washington, D.C.

People don’t mess with Marines.

Sir Zambellas said the same in his speech at the reception. After noting that the British did not burn the Marine Corps Barracks during the War of 1812, he said that even then his predecessors knew not to mess with the Marine Corps.

The Marines are quietly polished. They are dedicated. And they are disciplined to a level beyond comprehension. For one and a half hours, five platoons stood in place, not moving a muscle (quite literally) or swaying in the slightest.

Anyone who witnesses the parade can imagine how formidable these men and women would seem in combat. Before the platoons came out from behind a breezeway shrouded by shrubs, we could hear them. We heard their footsteps, their commands and the clinking of their weaponry.

“The Marines are coming! The Marines are coming!” I thought. It’s the same thought I had while running a 5K in Pensacola, Florida. I heard the rhythmic thump of their footsteps and turned around to see about one hundred Marines in line and running toward me on the route. Dustin pushed me up onto the curb yelling, “Get out of the way, the Marines are coming!”

In the eery half-darkness of the parade field, as the Marines’ footsteps echoed from behind the bushes, I thought it again: “Get out of the way, the Marines are coming.”

Even the drum major, who had to be well over 6 feet tall and was made taller by the large bearskin hat, looked frightening. He didn’t smile or sway as he marched down the field. He moved fluidly and made no noise through the stillness of the night.

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And then the Silent Drill Platoon came forward. If you’ve never seen their demonstration, you need to watch a sample of it here. Their precision and timing defies absolutely everything you thought humanly possible. I will never forget their expressionless faces half illuminated and half not.

After the parade, the band played the Navy Hymn, “Eternal Father,” and I’m certain everyone — even all those stoic admirals and generals — had goosebumps. How could they not?  Each gentle rise of the notes brought tears to my eyes as I thought of military friends we’ve lost and the wounded warriors seated in front of us.

That’s when I realized: the parade was fascinating to us, but it’s not for us. It’s clear the Marines are doing it for them — the lost and wounded. That’s where their discipline and dedication comes from.

And, honestly, no other group looks quite as good doing it.

Bremerton Patriot article by Sarah Smiley

Posted by: arbeam | August 5, 2014

Seafair Navy Ship Cruise July 30, 2014

The Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex transits Elliott Bay during a parade of ships to kick off Seafair week

The US Navy once again in support of Seafair arranged for the amazing opportunity for a limited number of civilians to ride aboard a Navy ship or Coast Guard cutter on Puget Sound. But unlike past years where the ship riders were all chosen by random drawing, this year some slots were specially reserved for the Navy League with a guarantee to get aboard. There were 14 of us (members and guests) from Bremerton-Olympic Council who took advantage.

The ships participating in the program this year, and which on subsequent days were open to the general public for tours, were amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2), guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), guided missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83), and Coast Guard cutter USCGC Mellon (WHEC 717). Several additional smaller cutters plus two Canadian coastal defense vessels were also in the parade of ships. Our group was assigned to USS Essex.

USS Essex was commissioned October 17, 1992 and when fully operational carries 1200 Navy and 1800 Marine Corps personnel. Home ported in San Diego, CA the ship carries all components of an amphibious assault, whether by air, sea or land, and the Marines who fight. There was no fighting during our cruise…only exceptional friendliness from everyone on the ship. Essex is also prepared to furnish humanitarian assistance in case of disasters home and abroad. More information about the ship itself can be found on several on line locations.

What was particularly welcoming was that the XO CDR Brian J. Quin greeted us at the quarter deck and told us that the ship was ours to explore and enjoy. There were few areas roped off for obvious safety reasons, but otherwise we had pretty much unrestricted access to all areas above and below deck, from bow to stern. It was interesting to observe on operational bridge…very different from one that is dark and silent. There were several Navy and Marine helicopters deployed on deck as well. While aboard the crew provided us first with an extensive continental breakfast, and later with an equally extensive lunch. For sure no one went home hungry!

Seafair Parade 2014

We pulled out from Pier 90 mid morning and proceeded counter clockwise leading the parade of ships north a way near West Point Light and then across Puget Sound toward Bainbridge Island. Eventually we turned again to the south and then to the east off Alki Point, then past Duwamish and finally past Seattle where we passed in review for the people on shore. For part of the time the crew was manning the rain in their whites, a sight most people have never experienced from our vantage point. A Seattle Fire Department fire boat led the parade with a continuous water display. Mts. Rainier and Baker, along with the Cascades and Olympics provided the perfect backdrop on a crystal blue sky day.

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While we were passing in review we also had the pleasure of a fly over by a variety of Marine Corps helicopters and two V22 Ospreys, all aircraft normally deployed aboard Essex. They flew over in spaced apart groups of two initially and later returned in close formation, an impressive display to end the day.

CAPT Peter M. Mantz, Commnding Officer USS Essex, addressed everyone over the PA system when we had docked back at Pier 90 and thanked us for coming and for our support of the US Navy…something we need to spread the word about wide and far. But in return it would be an understatement to say that we owe CAPT Mantz and the crew of Essex our thanks for an extraordinary day. Also thanks to Navy Region Northwest for putting this all together.

 

Norm Marten

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