News: Southern Puget Sound, home to the annual Evergreen Fleet Cruise
Story by Staff Sgt. Teresa Adams
TACOMA YACHT CLUB, Wash. - Boarding a yacht to experience the beauty of the southern Puget Sound waterways may seem like a dream for some, but the Puget Sound community made it a reality for many military senior leaders from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
Civilian leaders and business representatives from the Puget Sound area along with military leaders and guests from Joint Base Lewis- McChord and Canada experienced a day filled with patriotism, camaraderie and community June 15 as they cruised southern Puget Sound onboard yachts during the annual Evergreen Fleet Cruise here.
Co-hosted by the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber Military Affairs Committee and the Tacoma Yacht Club, the goal of the annual Evergreen Fleet Cruise is to encourage networking and enhance the sense of community among civilians and military leaders.
Before departing on the cruise, the Tacoma Yacht Club provided a delicious breakfast for over 200 civilian business representatives and military leaders and their special guests. After breakfast, 16 yacht owners escorted the guests to the yachts that would cruise a portion of southern Puget Sound.
Absorbing the beauty of the Puget Sound area, skippers and their crew members cruised at a leisurely pace prior to arriving at a catered picnic luncheon held at the yacht club’s Wollochet Bay Outstation.
All the skippers onboard the yachts were gracious hosts to their guests.
“This is not a cruise done for our recognition,” said Chuck Irwin, a local business owner who invited 12 guests onboard his yacht "Laughin’ Place." “We do this to recognize the military and to foster continued growth in the relationship between the military and the community.”
Once all the boats arrived at the outstation, crew members and their guests disembarked the water crafts to honor the raising of the American flag by Maj. Gen. Lloyd Miles, the deputy commanding officer of I Corps and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Walt Burton, commodore of the Tacoma Yacht Club and Alan Rencowski, vice commodore of the club.
Assisting in the flag detail were several past and present military leaders who are veterans of conflicts including World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Panama, Afghanistan and Iraq.
“I am amazed,” said Paul Berry, a 94-year-old retired Chief Warrant Officer who served in World War II and the Cold War and was part of the flag detail. “The fellowship and the camaraderie here are wonderful.”
The unexpected sunny and breezy spring day allowed skippers and crew members to soak up the sun as they socialized at the picnic luncheon.
Southern Puget Sound offered many beautiful sights to behold as the crewmembers and their guests made the return journey to the Tacoma Yacht Club.
Cruising through the Narrows Bridge Passage, passing by Point Defiance and making way through Commencement Bay during the return to the club was the perfect way to wind down after a day full of community, cuisine and fun.
A military leader onboard the “Laughin’ Place” had a high opinion of the Puget Sound community and appreciated the opportunity to attend the cruise.
“I have served for over 20 years,” said Lt. Col. Joseph D. Davidson, deputy commanding officer, 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, Joint Base Lewis-McChord. “Before 9/11 you didn’t necessarily feel that some communities understood and supported soldiers. Post 9/11, it seems that communities began to show more support to our soldiers. Puget Sound has always appreciated the soldiers. I am honored to be a part of this event and this community.”