NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill (NNS) -- On the 100th anniversary of the day that Naval Station Great Lakes (NSGL) first opened its doors, the Naval Station held a celebration on Ross Field, July 1 attended by 6,000 base personnel, recruit family members, elected officials, and current and retired service members.
After a Recruit Training Command graduation ceremony for 800 of the Navy's newest Sailors, the event culminated in a rededication of the installation by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne, commander Navy Region Midwest, Capt. John Malfitano, NSGL commanding officer, Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick D. West, and Bobby Ferguson, president of Great Lakes Region of Navy League of the United States. The Navy League of the United States donated the plaque.
"The story of Great Lakes has been written with the dedication of the 3.5 million Sailors who have passed through that main gate," said Kirk, "beginning with 17-year-old Joseph Gregg of Terre Haute, Ind. That story continues to be written every day by the 20,000 Sailors and civilians who train, work and live here."
In 1989, Kirk was commissioned as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy Reserve and currently holds the rank of Commander. Senator Kirk was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 2000 and went on to serve five terms representing the people of Illinois' 10th Congressional District in Congress. On November 29, 2010, Senator Kirk was sworn in as the 30th class III United States Senator from the state of Illinois.
The ceremony commenced with an address by Malfitano.
"America's strength comes from the synergy between the nation's brave sons and daughters who have chosen the warrior way, and the people and organizations in our communities who provide them with the steadfast support to get the job done," said Malfitano.
"For those of us at Great Lakes, the support of the good people of Lake County is the bedrock of our strength. Quite simply, we could not accomplish our mission without you," said Malfitano.
Pre-ceremony events began on Friday with an address by Cmdr. Robert Sullivan, the executive officer of NSGL, who spoke about the century long history of the base. "One hundred years ago today, on July 1, 1911, Naval Station Great Lakes first opened its doors. Since the first group of recruits reported for training, more than 3.5 million sailors have started their Navy careers right here in northern Illinois," said Sullivan.
Vice Admiral Ann E. Rondeau, the President of National Defense University and the former commander of Great Lakes, was the reviewing officer for the graduation. The National Defense University is the premier center for Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) and is under the direction of the chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Department of Defense. As president of NDU she is a member of the board of directors of the United States Institute for Peace, as well as Department of Defense liaison to The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.
Later in the day, the Great Lakes Naval Museum held a cake cutting attended by Sullivan and CMDCM Leon Walker, NSGL command master chief.
For more news from Commander, Navy Region Midwest/Naval Station Great Lakes, visit www.navy.mil/local/midwest/.