The Greater Austin Council of the Navy League of the United States has completed a busy 2012 with some significant accomplishments in support of the Navy League mission. Even so, there are still things that need to be done and areas where we can improve.
Notably, the Council conducted eight rather than its usual six Distinguished Speaker Programs which are much acclaimed in Greater Austin and throughout the Lone Star Region, that is, Texas. Council Distinguished Speaker Programs are patriotic, informative and held in the historical Austin Woman's Club's elegant and spacious ballroom. The cuisine is always superb and the bar is open. Programs include an invocation, pledge of allegiance to colors presented by cadets or midshipmen of our sponsored units, the singing of the Navy Hymn, three course dinner, our speaker program, retirement of the colors, and adjournment with the singing of God Bless America.
This year the Council's distinguished guest speakers were:
Professor Jeffrey F. Addicott
Distinguished Professor of Law
Director of Center for Terrorism Law
Saint Mary's University
Topic: Assessing the Efficacy of Obama’s National Security Policies in the “War on Terror”
Mr. Phil Dunmire
The Navy League of the United States
Topic: The State of the Navy League
RADM Garry J. Bonelli
Deputy Commander, Naval Special Warfare Command
Topic: The Role of Navy Special Forces, the SEALs
Austin Bay Author
Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Professor, and Author
Topic: Quick & Dirty Guide to War: Fourth Edition, Paladin Press 2008
Fred Burton Vice President of Intelligence, Stratfor and Author
Topic: Border Control and Illegal Crossings
Rear Admiral James J. Shannon, USN
Commander, Naval Surface Warfare Center
Deputy Commander for Surface Warfare (SEA 21)
ADM William H. McRaven, USN
Commander, United States Special Operations, USN
Topic: Operations of US Special Forces during the next decades
Commander Andy Hertel, USN, Commanding Officer
MMCM(SS) Matt Harris, Chief of the Boat
LTJG Mike Von Bargen,USN (also of Navy football fame)
USS Texas (SSN-775) Homeported in Pearl, Hawaii
Topic: USS Texas Defending Texas and America
The Council continued its sponsorship and support of the University of Texas Naval ROTC, William B. Travis Naval Sea Cadet Corps and Navy League Corps units, seven (7) Navy Junior ROTC units, five (5) Marine Corps Junior ROTC Units, and the Capital Area Young Marines. Each unit received a stipend from the Council, $1,000 for UT NROTC and $150 for the other units.
Individual awards included the Navy League Youth Medal to outstanding cadets from the youth program units and an officers sword for a commissioning UT NROTC Midshipman or Officer Candidate.
In 2011, the Council's George T. Jones Scholarship Fund reached its targeted level of $20,000 and triggered the awarding of the Council's first scholarship in 2012. Bastrop High School graduating senior, Cadet Jason Sevier of the Bastrop National Defense Corps unit, was the most deserving recipient. His photo is seen in the rotation on the home page of this site.
The Greater Austin Council was well represented in the management of the Navy League at the national and region levels. Jack Ritter served as National Vice President for Legislative Affairs and on the National Steering Committee, Glenn Looney as President, Lone Star Region and Chair of the NLUS Region Presidents, and Max Miller as President Central Texas Area and Chairman of the National Awards Committee.
Jeanie Coffey, Tim Hunsberger, Glenn Looney, Max Miller, Mary Virginia Pittman-Waller, and Jack Ritter also served on the National Board of Directors.
Council member Max Miller received the Navy League's prestigious Distinguished Service Award in 2012, an award which Jack Ritter also won in 2010.
The Council continued its program, “Where in the World is the USS Austin?, seeking a new ship to be named after the fair city of Austin, Texas. No luck, so far.
The Council's Legislative Affairs “Grassroots Program” team (Jeanie, Max, Jack, Tim) called on 25 congressman and senators giving them the Navy League's Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard presentations. Tim Hunsberger manned the Community Service Organization Presentation program giving three presentations to local civic organizations.
Following CDR Andy Hertel's (CO, USS Texas visit, Kathy Pillmore recognized a need and acquired seven foot long Texas Longhorns for display from USS Texas' bridge during special details. It seems that USS Texas had only three foot longhorns (were they from Oklahoma?). Photos and an article describing the presentation of the longhorns is located on the Council News page of this site.
The Council improved its standing in cyberspace by implementing its third generation, beautifully designed website found at www.navyleagueaustin.org. The Council's Facebook page was also upgraded to to full-fledged organizational fan page. Find it at www.facebook.com/GreaterAustinCouncil.
On a more disappointing note and as a call for all members, officers, and directors to step up and dedicate themselves to improving the Greater Austin Council in 2013:
Council membership fell to 227, lowest in a number of years. Every member is responsible for recruiting new members. If every member would just sponsor one new member in 2013, the Council could approach 450 members by the end of the year. The tools for signing up new members are found on this website.
The Council needs more members to volunteer their skills and time at whatever level they can give. The Council needs fresh new leadership. The same 8-10 folks are doing all the work year after year. Many enjoy the fruits of their labor but not enough have come forth to help continue their success.
Let the Council know what you can do best and a place will be found for you, for example in finance, information technology, programs, administration, legal support, spiritual leadership, communications and logistical support. No more time than you have is all that is asked.
Congratulations to Kathy Pillmore, the Council's 2013 President and first civilian Council President.