Rear Admiral Willis A. “Pilly Lent Award
Imagine firing the first torpedoes of World War II in anger against the Japanese Navy. The man on the periscope aboard USS TRITON (SS 201) off Wake Island on December 10, 1941 was her captain, then Lieutenant Commander (LCDR) Willis A. “Pilly” Lent. Rear Admiral Lent would go on to make many more war patrols in command and then fill key leadership positions throughout the war. He was also the first submariner to earn two Navy Crosses.
The Navy League of the United States (NLUS) Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council teamed with the Commander, Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet (COMSUBPAC) to honor RADM Lent with a new annual award for the best performing tactical submarine department head assigned to the COMSUBPAC area of operations. According to COMSUBPAC INSTRUCTION 1650.3, the award recipient is selected based on “…outstanding tactical performance, individual achievement, and excellence in leadership, with an emphasis on warfighting performance, in honor of RADM Willis A. Lent.”
While COMSUBPAC will administer the selection of the award recipient, the NLUS Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council has agreed to fund the award, to include an all-expense paid three-day trip to Bremerton, WA, each May for the awardee and spouse. The awardee will be honored on stage at the annual Bremerton Armed Forces Day Gala Dinner.
The award was the brainchild of several Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council board members, spearheaded by the late Past President, Carolyn Dankers. The Council is also grateful to have had as a former board member and Past President, RADM Lent’s son, CAPT(ret.) Will Lent, Jr.
The first (2015) RADM Willis A. Lent Tactics and Warfighting Award recipient is LCDR Jeremy Medlin, of Burlington, NC. Medlin is assigned to the Blue Crew of the OHIO-Class Ballistic-Missile Submarine USS MAINE (SSBN 741) based in Silverdale, WA. The award itself consists of a shadow box that will be displayed at the ComSubPac Headquarters. The display case contains a photo of RADM Lent, a Navy Cross medal with star (second award), and a Mark 14 Torpedo gyroscope.
Because Medlin is already local in the Bremerton area, he was also honored in a ceremony at the Washington State Capitol on April 21, 2016 hosted by Secretary of State Kim Wyman. Bremerton Mayor, Patty Lent, CAPT(ret.) Will Lent, Jr., Council Communications Director, CAPT(ret.) Alan Beam, and Past President and Special Ambassador, Guy Stitt, also made the trip to Olympia to help recognize Medlin.
The RADM Willis A. Lent Tactics and Warfighting Award complements the NLUS Bremerton/Olympic Peninsula Council’s TRIDENT Outstanding Performance Award/Olympic Bowl Trophy, which is also presented annually at the Bremerton Armed Forces Day Gala Dinner. The Olympic Bowl Trophy, originated by Will Lent over 30 years ago, is awarded to the overall top-performing Pacific Fleet TRIDENT crew or ship across all areas of operations, plus initiative in promoting new operational concepts and any special recognition received from outside organizations.