(Via Ho’okele News)
Story and photo by MC2 Diana Quinlan
Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii.
Military service members based in Hawaii reenlisted during a mass reenlistment ceremony held Sept. 11 under turret one on the Battleship Missouri Memorial on Ford Island.
More than 30 service members took the oath of enlistment on the 13th anniversary of the Sept.11 attacks, paying tribute to the victims as well as commemorating their past and future service.
Navy Rear Adm. Alma Grocki, director for fleet maintenance, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, presided over the ceremony and was reenlisting officer. Command Master Chief Patricia Roebuck, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, served as master of ceremonies, and Lt. James Ragain, a chaplain attached to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, offered an invocation
“It is amazing to have all the services together— Army, Navy and Air Force—all in such a historic place and on such a meaningful day as today, Sept. 11,” said Grocki. “It is a fantastic feeling to see all the people, these good Americans, come together and be willing to give more years of their lives to the country.”
She stressed the importance of today’s military, and servicemen and women who chose to continue to defend their nation. Grocki also gave advice to members of armed services who serve and will be serving in the future.
“There are probably things that you don’t like about what you do or how things work [in the military], but you need to stay in the system and work in order to make a change,” said Grocki. “Look for the opportunities to better your service for yourself and [improve it] for the people who are behind you and, by staying in, by reenlisting, you have a great chance to do that.”
Commands, detachments and units, mentors, families and friends attended the ceremony in support of their Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, covering the entire bow of the battleship.
Upon completing her address to the military members, Grocki raised her right hand and read the oath of enlistment as service members repeated after her in unison.
“I am proud to be able to do this, on this important day, Sept. 11, very honored that I can continue to serve for the next six years,” said Chief Fire Controlman Clifford Emerson, stationed aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Port Royal (CG 73).
Chief selectees, stationed aboard USS Port Royal, came to the ceremony in support of their chief and were on hand to congratulate him and commemorate his future service.
Electronics Technician 1st Class William White, assigned to the guidedmissile destroyer USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), shared Emerson’s excitement and pride.
White was stationed aboard the guided missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66) in Portsmouth, England when the attacks on America occurred, and his ship was almost immediately recalled for support. Today he wanted to commemorate the anniversary of Sept. 11 with his continued service to the nation.
“It’s chilling; it really gets you down deep inside to stand on Missouri today. I was really happy that Rear Adm. Grocki was able to do this ceremony. It’s not very common to have an admiral to reenlist you,” said White.
“The falling of the towers, the attacks on the Pentagon, and fallen commercial aircraft—it is something that is going to stay with me for the rest of my life. And through the memories of my family, fallen shipmates and comrades throughout the armed forces who were affected by those events is what made me want to reenlist on this day and will take me to my 20-year mark,” White said.
Upon completion of the ceremony, members of the armed forces were invited to raise their flags aboard the Missouri to commemorate their service.