CSG2, Congressman Present Awards to Nautilus SSN 571 Division Cadets
OLD SAYBROOK, Conn. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Rick Breckenridge, commander, Submarine Group 2 and U.S.Rep. Joe Courtney joined nearly 100 Sea Cadets and their families for their annual holiday party and awards at the VFW Post 1053 in Old Saybrook, Dec. 10.
Nautilus (SSN 571) Division Commanding Officer Lt. Cmdr. Robert Smith, who retired from the U.S. Navy as a chief messs specialist, thanked the families and local community for their support of the Sea Cadet program.
"So many give so much to run a program like this," said Smith. "Your kids make this unit as strong as it is."
Smith added that countless hours are spent by volunteers to better the organization and these volunteers bring nearly 200 years of cumulative military experience.
Breckenridge, a strong supporter for the Sea Cadet program, praised the cadets for their interest and commitment in serving a purpose greater than themselves.
"It's great to see your selfless discipline and personal devotion to our country at such an early point in your lives," said Breckenridge, who also emphasized the values of the program in preserving what is great about America.
Breckenridge impressed upon the group the significance of Courtney's attendance.
"When a congressman with the scope of responsibilities of Joe Courtney invests his extremely limited discretionary time to meet here, it speaks volumes on the importance of our youth and to this program," said Breckenridge.
Courtney and Breckenridge attended the annual awards ceremony to present the Nautilus 571 Division Cadet of the Year and Navy League Cadet Corps Training Ship Nathan Hale Cadet of the Year awards.
Sea Cadet Tulsa Scott, Fitch High School senior, received the Nautilus 571 Cadet of the Year and has been in the program since July 2010. After graduation Scott hopes to attend the U.S. Naval Academy and pursue a naval career in the Submarine Force.
"Both my father and grandfather were submariners and I have been on the water all of my life," said Scott.
During the ceremony Breckenridge presented the 2011 Navy League Cadet Corps of the Year award to Petty Officer 1st Class Jakob Stanton.
Another senior participating in the Sea Cadet program is Sarah Kukich; an East Lyme High School senior was recently accepted into the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
While she has her sight set on the Coast Guard Academy, she is still waiting for acceptance replies from Naval Reserves Officer Training Corps or U.S. Naval Academy.
Kukich is a perfect example of the programs' benefits said Smith who spoke of the benefits of the Cadet Corps by instilling obedience, military bearing and discipline. Captain of her crew team; sailing team, as well as a fierce competitor in pole vaulting and track team, Kukich has also received the coveted Girl Scout Gold Award earlier this year.
"It's a good leadership opportunity and a good introduction program that shows kids about the military," said Kukich.
Melinda Welch, Kukich's mother discussed her daughter's drive. "She has always been very organized and disciplined," said Welch.
During Courtney's speech he emphasized the important role he plays in approving academy nominations and congratulated Kukich on her recent acceptance.
"I get to be involved in the nomination process and a Sea Cadet label on a resume or application is like a stamp of Good Housekeeping," said Courtney.
Wendy Bahner, resident of Clinton, Conn., is another parent whose two sons, 17 and 19, has been involved in the Sea Cadet program for the past eight years collectively and echoed the programs' benefits.
"It teaches them leadership, self discipline, self respect and teamwork, as well as respect for others," said Bahner.
Bahner added that the Navy vs Army annual game will have new meaning in her home when her two sons join the military. Her 19-year old will be leaving for boot camp in January and her 17-year old will enter the U.S. Navy upon graduation from high school next year.