Saturday, September 24, 2011

Blue Angels Meet with Students at Norfolk High School

By Lt. Stephanie Homick, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Members of the Navy's flight demonstration team, the Blue Angels, visited Granby High School in Norfolk, Va. to meet with Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (NJROTC) students Sept. 23.

Lt. Cmdr. Jim Tomaszeski, Marine Corps Capt. Brandon Cordill, and Avionics Technician 2nd Class Will Martin, along with local Navy and Marine Corps recruiters, spoke to high school students from Granby High School, Lake Taylor High School and Lee Davis High School.

Students from all three high schools filled the seats of the auditorium, dressed in their NJROTC uniforms or Navy T-shirts. Prior to the start of the presentation, students chanted motivational phrases in unison.

Following the presentation of the flag and the singing of the national anthem, the Blue Angels played a video, which showcased their mission. Tomaszeski, the number two pilot and right wing of the team, said that the video showed the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy. He then spoke of his role as a member of the Blue Angels team and why he became a pilot in the first place.

"I wanted a sense of excitement," and the thrill of adventure while serving his country, said Tomaszeski.

Martin next explained his role as a crew chief, ensuring the maintenance of the aircraft and completing the final safety check just prior to the pilot strapping in for flight. Speaking about the pilot whose aircraft he inspects, he added, "His life in is my hands."

Afterward, students asked the Blue Angels and the recruiters questions about the naval service. Questions ranged from "what does one have to do to become a Blue Angel?" to "what was the worst weather the pilots had ever flown in?"

When asked what the best part of his job was, Tomaszeski answered, "This [speaking to students] is the most rewarding part of my job ... I hope to inspire the students to join the Navy, a global force for good."

The Blue Angels have performed for more than 427 million spectators since their inception in 1946. They fly the same aircraft and perform the same maneuvers as Navy combat pilots flying over Afghanistan and operating off flight decks of aircrafts carriers worldwide.

Navy Memorial Hosts 24th Annual Lone Sailor Awards Dinner

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Mikelle D. Smith, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy Memorial honored six military veterans during the 2011 Lone Sailor awards dinner held at the National Building Museum in Washington, Sept. 22.

The notable veterans included Lloyd "Beau" Bridges III, Jeff Bridges, Lloyd Bridges, Brian Lamb, Jerry Coleman and Bob Feller. Beau Bridges, Lamb and Coleman were in attendance and were presented with the Lone Sailor award before military members and distinguished guests at the dinner.

Beau Bridges, an actor, producer and director, was recognized for his accomplishments as a civilian after serving both active and Reserve duty in the U.S. Coast Guard.

Lamb was recognized for his service as a naval officer and, later, founder of C-SPAN.

Coleman, said to be the only Major League Baseball player to have seen combat in two wars, was recognized for the 120 missions he flew as an aviator and his devotion to the Marine Corps.

The Lone Sailor award is presented to veterans who have excelled in their respective civilian careers while continuing to exemplify military values.

"This event allows the Navy Memorial Foundation, and the entire Navy, the opportunity to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the maritime services and our nation," said Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson.

Beau Bridges, following in the footsteps of his father Lloyd, enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard in 1959 and served eight years as a Reservist, after active duty.

"I enlisted when I was 17 after Kennedy threw up the blockade in Cuba," said Bridges. "My father, thinking that there would be a draft, suggested that I try to choose my service beforehand. My father had been made an honorary commodore in the Coast Guard and I knew a lot of the personnel, so I chose to enlist in the Coast Guard."

Bridges accepted his Lone Sailor Award on behalf of his deceased father, Lloyd, and younger brother Jeff who could not attend the event.

"My motto in the Coast Guard was Semper Paratus, which means "always ready." That is something that I have carried with me my whole life," said Bridges. "I also learned how important respect is; respecting yourself, respecting your mates, respecting the authorities that are training you and getting you ready ... these are all qualities that I have tried to pass on to my children and carry on for myself and my life."

Lamb, who enlisted in the Navy after graduating from Purdue University, served in many different media elements during his time in the military. He was an aide in the Johnson administration and also a Pentagon public affairs officer during the Vietnam War.

"When I got into the Navy there was structure," said Lamb. "I found people that were dedicated and committed ... I got a sense that people wanted me to learn and all of that fed into the beginning of my life; these foundation experiences will always be paramount in my life."

Lamb added that he didn't think he would have done what he did without serving in the Navy.

After receiving an honorable discharge from the Navy in 1967, Lamb began working as a freelance reporter and spent the next 12 years honing his skills as a political media journalist. In 1977, he won the support of key cable industry executives and began developing a station using satellite uplinks, known today as C-SPAN.

"The advice I would give to young Sailors today would be to look around and take advantage of every opportunity available to you," said Lamb. "Always ask questions. Get down to the bottom of why someone wants you to do what they are asking. If you pay attention, it will help you and it can work for you."

Coleman joined the Marine Corps in 1942 as a naval aviation cadet. After receiving his wings in 1944, he was commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant, and went on to see combat during World War II and the Korean War. (See these Korean War books written only by Korean War veterans)

"When I found out I was getting the Lone Sailor award, I was thrilled to death," said Coleman. "The proudest moment of my life was the day that I got my second lieutenant bars and my aviator wings ... that still, to this day, remains the highlight of my life."

Coleman returned to professional baseball in 1953 and finished up his career in 1957. He went on to become a sports broadcaster for CBS television and has been recognized by the Marine Corps, as well as being inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2007 for his work in broadcasting.

"As a professional baseball player and broadcaster I think the one thing that stayed with me since my time in the service has been trying to do my best," said Coleman. "When called upon, the United States military are the best qualified [people] in the world."

Prior to the awards ceremony dinner, Bridges, Lamb and Coleman received a tour of the Navy Memorial, which houses the Lone Sailor statue. The Lone Sailor statue is a composite of the U.S. Navy bluejacket, past, present and future, and was designed in 1987.

The Lone Sailor award has been presented to 73 Navy and Marine Corps veterans, and the Navy Memorial continues to provide Navy veterans and personnel currently serving with a place to celebrate their service.