News: Marines, sailors honored at Navy League luncheon
Story by Cpl. James Sauter
HONOLULU — The Navy League of the U.S. awarded Marines and sailors stationed on the island of Oahu for their individual augmented service in support of overseas operations during a luncheon at the Ala Moana Hotel Hibiscus Ballroom in Honolulu, Feb. 28.
The Navy League is a civilian non-profit organization dedicated to educating the American people and advocating that the United States is dependent upon strong naval services for its economic well-being and national defense, according to the organization’s website. The league hosted the luncheon to give the Marines and sailors who served as individual augmentees recognition for their services.
“For seven months, I served in Kuwait as an administrative chief and driver on Camp Arifjan,” said Cpl. Jovanka Jaime Franco, a Headquarters Battalion administrative clerk and native of Tucson, Ariz. “They needed a person to fill that billet and I learned a lot from being overseas and working on an Army installation. It makes you appreciate being home when you’re over there working all the time and not able to see your family.”
Service members may voluntarily be selected for duty as an individual augmentee when a billet demands specialized skills. During the ceremony, Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet and native of Washington, D.C., talked about the individual work the Marines and sailors had to dedicate themselves to while on deployment.
“Each of them are a part of a class of Marines and sailors who can say they served by filling individual billets that demanded extensive knowledge,” Haney said. “A lot of times when they return, there’s no welcome home ceremony. But they have my thanks and the thanks of a grateful nation.”
The Navy League was founded in 1902 with the encouragement of President Theodore Roosevelt, according to the league’s website. The organization was initially founded to provide a voice to Congress and the American people about the need for a strong maritime naval presence.
Today, the Navy League dedicates itself to providing education programs for the American people on the U.S.’ role as a maritime power and the economic importance of free and open sea-lanes. At the conclusion of the ceremony, every Marine and sailor individual augmentee received a coin from Haney as a token of gratitude.
“From our standpoint, it’s a two-way street,” said Don Morrison, former president of the Navy League of the U.S. Honolulu Council. “We honor them for their service in as many ways as we can, they help us with education, and then we, in return, educate the public at large.”