McNamara Headquarters Complex employees celebrate Navy’s 242nd birthday

By Beth Reece

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Sailors joining the Navy today have initiative and commitment that will make the service’s future as successful as its past, the Defense Logistics Agency’s senior enlisted leader said during a celebration of the Navy’s 242nd birthday at the McNamara Headquarters Complex Oct. 17.

“I truly love our history. Looking back over the past 242 years fills me with pride and warms my heart, but this is nothing compared to when I look forward. I have had the opportunity to see thousands of young sailors over my career. The quality of sailor that is coming into the service today has a level of initiative and intelligence that has never been seen before,” said Navy Command Master Chief Shaun Brahmsteadt.

Honoring traditions like the ringing of the bells and recalling the Navy’s rich heritage and history provide a connection to the past, a sense of identity and a legacy to pass down, Brahmsteadt said before sharing some of his favorite moments from the Navy’s past.

The Navy was created in Oct. 13, 1775, when the Continental Congress realized a need for ships to fight British sea power. Since then, the service has fought more than 10 major wars and numerous battles to bring security and prosperity to the American people.

“It’s stood as a constant deterrent against international aggression, fought the good fight when necessary, acted as a willing source of assistance to those in crisis or need around the globe, and moved humanity forward through everything from action to innovation,” he said.

Brahmsteadt described battles at Flamborough Head in the North Sea and Hampton Roads, Virginia, as well as the birth of American submarine warfare in 1864. In April 1949, Jesse L. Brown became the Navy’s first African-American flight officer. He served until he was shot down at the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. And in March 1994, the Navy issued the first orders for women aboard a combat ship.

Deputy Chief of Staff Dave Kless also shared his pride in the Navy. A 27-year veteran, Kless followed his father’s footsteps as a Naval Supply Corps officer. Looking back on his career, he is reminded of the words of John F. Kennedy, also a Navy veteran, who said, “Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: ‘I served in the United States Navy.’”

The Navy has 279 ships afloat, with 100 of them deployed globally, but the fleet continues to grow. In July, President Donald Trump christened the USS Gerald R. Ford, the newest, largest and most advanced aircraft carrier in the world. And this month, the service christened the USS South Dakota.

“According to the current 30-year plan, the Navy will grow to 308 ships by fiscal 2022. This fleet is the deterrent that keeps us from having to fight in the first place, but it also ensures that if a conflict does come, we’ll be ready to fight and win,” Kless said.

Having the best technology and equipment helps make America’s Navy a dominant force, but it’s the people – all volunteers with no expectation of praise or distinction – who make it the most powerful naval force on the globe, he added.

“More than 324,000 sailors answer our nation’s call each and every day. The men and women serving in today’s Navy elected to join the military with the full knowledge that they would be going to war. They never wavered, and through their efforts and sacrifice, they take their place among the generations that have gone before them,” he said.