BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB) remembered those away from home for the holidays on deployment and those recently returned from oversea assignments with the command's annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on Dec. 1.
"NHB continues to support our fighting force by sending Sailors on deployment to serve and protect this great nation," said Religious Program Specialist 2nd Class Allison Phillips, master of ceremonies." NHB would like to extend our greatest sense of gratitude and compassion to you (deployed) and your families, especially to those of you who have loved ones currently deployed. As we unite around this beautiful tree, let us rejoice over those who have returned home safely, pray for those currently deployed, and remember the sacrifices of all those who have served."
Phillips then requested to those in attendance who are facing deployment, know or have someone currently deployed, or have been deployed at any time, to take a moment to be recognized.
Many in the audience - active duty and civilian staff, family members - acknowledged the request.
"Our tree lighting ceremony has special significance for several reasons," said Capt. Jeffrey Bitterman, NHB Commanding Officer, who rendered honors by officially lighting the tree. "It's a great representation of inclusion and diversity in our Navy and it's a way to remember our deployed shipmates - those returned, those still gone, and especially those who have deployed and never returned home. NHB is like a second family to us and this ceremony means a lot."
The ornament dedication portion of the event came next. As the names of two forward deployed NHB staff members - Capt. Brian Smoley in Iraq and Lt. Cmdr. Brendan O'Brien in Africa on individual augmentee status - were formally read, a co-worker stepped forth to place an ornament on the tree in their remembrance and honor.
Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Danielle Dixon did the honors of placing an ornament on the tree for Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Darryl Escamilla, Director of Surgical Service leading petty officer who served in Afghanistan from January to October 2017. Current duties did not permit him to attend the ceremony.
"I wanted to do it because it's important for all of us, especially during the holidays, to remember those who have been on deployment, and those who are still on deployment," said Dixon. "They are all our brothers and sisters."
Remaining ornaments were placed for 14 staff members returned from over the course of the calendar year from their individual augmentee deployment. There were several attending the event and they were also presented with a certificate of appreciation and handmade quilt provided by Naval Base Kitsap Fleet and Family Support Center.
"I knew about the ceremony from the one last year," said Lt. Edward Roberts, NHB Deputy Comptroller who also deployed to Afghanistan from March to October 2017. "There are other commands that hold a similar event. It really is a great way to show support for staff and family who go through a deployment. Being presented the quilt is really nice! Soon as I get home, everyone is going to want to use it."
Other returning deployed members recognized were; Cmdr. Andrew Young, deployed to Afghanistan, February to October 2017; Lt. Cmdr. Summanther Kaviratne, deployed to Afghanistan, February to October 2017; Lt. Travis Carr, deployed to Afghanistan, January to October 2017; Senior Chief Hospital Corpsman Brian Jacobson, deployed to Afghanistan from August 2016 to April 2017; Chief Hospital Corpsman Christopher Miguel, deployed to Afghanistan from September, 2016 to September 2017; HM3 Timothy Soukup, deployed to Afghanistan from August 2016 to April 2017; Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Nina Merrill, deployed to Afghanistan from October 2016 to April 2017; HM2 Carlconrado Limos, deployed to Afghanistan, August 2016 to April 2017; HM2 James Thayer, deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from May 2016 to February 2017; Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Daniel Brown, from August 2016 to May 2017; HM3 Christopher Garcia, deployed to Afghanistan from August 2016 to April 2017; and HM3 Duong Dong, deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from May 2016 to February 2017.
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