White River Junction, Vt. (NNS) -- Established in March of 1915, the United States Navy Reserve has built a proud legacy strengthened by each succeeding generation's sacrifices, distinctive contributions and honorable service.
Standing 35 strong, the Sailors led by the Vermont-based, Navy Operational Support Center, (NOSC) White River Junction's, commanding officer, Lt., John Wilkes further crystalized this sentiment during the rededication ceremony to facility namesake, Lt. Cmdr. Robert T. Stafford. In 1948, he was the first Navy Reserve center commanding officer in the State of Vermont. Too many to list, it was his dedication, professionalism, deeds and actions that provided a strong foundation for the Navy Reserve in Vermont. His family believes it's that "can do" spirit that extends throughout the building and in the blood of the Sailors that are assigned there today.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, keynote speaker, Navy Facilities Command Public Works Division, Portsmouth's officer-in-charge, Cmdr. Jason Crosby, was flanked by Stafford's twin daughters, Barbara and Dinah, who recounted the significant contributions made by their father.
"Our father faithfully served aboard a converted troop transport, the SS America in the Pacific during World War II. Like all men of that generation, he felt it was his duty to serve. He was a great family man with a wonderful sense of humor. He instilled in his children and grandchildren a love of family gatherings and a love of boating," said Barbara and Dinah.
According to 26-year veteran, and NOSC White River Junction senior enlisted leader, Senior Chief Aviation Electrician's Mate James Borelli, the themes of family and legacy of service embraced by NOSC White River Junction Sailors at the namesake facility of Stafford would make him intensely proud.
"Our focus is to ensure that our Reserve personnel are fully-trained and ready to mobilize. Morale is high and we are meeting that mission," said Borelli.
"I love my military family," exclaimed White River Junction Logistics Specialist 2nd Class, Amy Haskin's, who joined the Navy to see the world. "There is a bond of service and friendship that's hard to explain to my civilian co-workers. The Navy taught me basic accounting skills years ago, which have enabled me to thrive as an accountant in my civilian job today."
Similarly, retired Electrician's Mate 2nd Class, Michael Benoit, the father of NOSC White River Junction Master-at-Arms 1st Class Patrick Benoit enlisted in the Navy Reserve in 1967.
"Back then, the Navy Reserve provided me with a viable vocational skill, and later he used the GI Bill to fund the first two years of his education in Data Processing, commonly referred to as Information Technology today." said Benoit. "I am intensely proud of my son, his 17 years of service, two tours of duty in Iraq, and the positive choices he has made in the Navy Reserve. Joining the Navy Reserve was absolutely the right choice for me. My son is making a positive difference and able to apply his practical force protection experience and advanced degree in Anti-terrorism daily within his Navy Reserve career."
The legacy of NOSC White River Junction has touched many lives since that rainy April day in 1948, where Stafford and other Navy Reservists stood at the base of College Street in Burlington, Vermont as the ground-breaking ceremony for the new Navy and Marine Corps Center officially commenced. That two-story structure, roughly 19,000 square feet in space, provided the initial permanent footprint for the Navy Reserve presence in Vermont. Initial cost estimates were $300,000. This construction project would allow Stafford to move the 25 Sailors of Surface Division I-44 from its borrowed facilities at the Burlington Police Department to a permanent home in the Green Mountain State. In January of the following year, Stafford was one of the hosts, as the building was formally dedicated by Rear Adm. Morton L. Deyo, commandant of the First Naval District.
NOSC White River Junction's rededication ceremony celebrates the first major renovation to the facility since constructed in 1994. The renovation included solar energy efficient roof panels and American Disabilities Act compliant access features making the facility and its Sailors more mission capable and good stewards of taxpayer resources. The $3.2M infrastructure investment sharpens the command's focus and ability to provide strategic depth and deliver operational capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps team, and Joint forces, in the full-range of operational missions that help train and maintain readiness well into the 21st century.
For over 100 years, the Navy Reserve has maintained a ready force of trained Sailors to answer our nation's call. Like her Mid-Atlantic sister NOSCs, White River Junction Sailors are committed to proudly serving as the shipmates before them -- Ready Then, Ready Now, Ready Always.
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