GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball Planning Committee has selected the top 17 finalists to compete to perform the national anthem at this year's 113th Submarine Ball in Groton, April 13.
The singers will compete in the second annual event scheduled for March 22 at the Dealey Center, which is located at Naval Submarine Base New London.
Chief Machinist's Mate (SS) Patrick Mclellan, Naval Submarine School instructor and lead coordinator for the annual Southeastern Connecticut-based ball discussed the talented singers who submitted their auditions.
"This year we received more auditions than the previous year, but like last year, there was an abundant amount of great singers," said Mclellan.
The finalists performing this year added Mclellan are a mixture of active duty submariners or spouses of submariners, as well as civilians who will all compete for an opportunity to perform the national anthem at the 113th Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball April 13 at the MGM Grand Hotel at Foxwoods Resort.
A total of four active duty submariners were chosen to compete this year. Two of the four active-duty submariners competed last year and are returning for a second chance to win the sing-off. They include: Machinist's Mate 3rd Class (SS) Wesley Norton, assigned to Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS San Juan (SSN 751) and Yeoman 2nd Class Alex Kuen, assigned to the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Virginia (SSN 774).
"I'm excited about competing this year, and hopefully I can win," said Kuen, who added that the sing-off has attracted a lot of attention this year, as well as the talent pool. "The talent pool this year is fierce."
Norton's wife Heather is looking forward to seeing her husband perform in person during the 2nd annual sing-off.
"Last year my husband was unable to perform in person, so we provided a CD of him singing one of his favorite country music songs," said Heather. "This year, I'm going to look forward to actually seeing him in person on stage performing."
The two other active-duty finalists competing, but for the first time, are the following: Lt. Cmdr. Jeremiah Minner, executive officer of Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) North Dakota (SSN 784) and Machinist's Mate Fireman (SS) Rudy Taylor, assigned to USS Toledo (SSN 769).
Taylor, who turns 21 this March, has experience singing in front of large crowds, he performed the national anthem two years ago while assigned to Naval Submarine School in Groton and discussed his excitement about competing this year.
"I'm excited because I love to sing, but also because I have a chance to represent my command and the submarine force," said Taylor, who added that he has been singing since the age of 7."
The remaining 13 finalists selected to compete in the 2nd Annual Submarine Birthday Ball Sing-off include the following: Stephanie Allyson Barry, ShaunaBeth Paradiso, Rachel Grindle, Jackie Guerrera, Meredith Brooke Kindred, Brittney Longyear, Kara Magnuson, Laura McKee, Yvette Mitchell, Noelle Pollack, Jamie Lassiter Salvatore, Bonnie Surowiec, and Natalie Turgeon.
The finalists will be performing in front a four-person judging panel consisting of: Sean Patrick McGraw, a country music singer and former Nashville Star semi-finalist who will judge alongside civilian and military counterparts, to include Capt. Dave Roberts, commanding officer, Naval Submarine School; Master Chief Musician Gregory W. Dudzienski, Navy Band Northeast Assistant Director, and Tom Russell, retired submarine veteran and chaplain of the SUBVETs Groton Base.
To check out the talent pool, who submitted their audition, visit the Submarine Birthday Ball's Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/submarineballsingoff.
The finalist selected during the sing-off with the winning voice will receive a complimentary ticket for two to attend the ball, as well as a one-night stay at the hotel during the night of the event.
The Southeastern Connecticut Submarine Force Birthday Ball Planning Committee is an all volunteer, non-federal entity not endorsed by the Department of Defense.
For more news from Commander Submarine Group 2, visit www.navy.mil/local/Subgru2/.