So, it was the annual NIP Spring Luncheon, known for the camaraderie shared with old shipmates, and the young people who are serving now on waters as ominous as any in recent years.
There is a lot going on in Naval Intelligence, and the professional organization that was founded more than a quarter century ago is being re-energized to be what, in the words of Chairman Tony Cothron, is to be an intelligence service that is "Visible and Relevant."
It was a great turnout- three former directors of three-letter agencies were there, the current Director of Naval Intelligence, and several active and other retired Flag officers. Not to mention some great junior officers and enlisted intelligence specialists.
Here was the agenda- President Norman Hayes was called away on other urgent business, as was RDML Bob Sharp, and their presence was missed.
The social hour was great, and there was a positive energy to the crowd with many old and new faces in attendance in the grand ballroom at the Army-Navy Country Club, a great venue for the event.
The first of two keynote speakers was retired CAPT George Pressly, who had been charged with setting up the first Fleet Ocean Surveillance Center, at Rota, Spain. You have read about the FOSIF in the tales of a deployment to the Mediterranean I have been spinning. In its day, the FOSIF did more to keep an very tangled tactical picture straight, help the Fleet to avoid trouble with the bumptious Soviets, and provide the critical situational awareness necessary to prevail, should the balloon have gone up. FOSIF helped insure that if it did, it was not going to be by mistake, or miscalculation.
Download the Pressly Sides: PowerPoint 1 | PowerPoint 2
The number of uniforms was impressive, and I am always struck by the quality of the young people who packed their sea-bags and gone to the sea in ships.
I am still wrestling with this part. I had my camera (in my role as the NIP's cub reporter Jimmy Olson) and left my table to be inconspicuous near the podium when the announcement for the Red Tie award was made and capture the presentation. Camera raised, I got a sinking feeling as Chairman Tony began his remarks. Yeah, they did it to me. Tony later said he hoped I would cry, but despite the surprise and humility that came with being the awardee myself, I did not weep until later at The Front Page. Or maybe that was about something else. I don't recall. But I do know this, I am proud to be a small part of this grand enterprise. They presented me with a pen crafted in Hawaii from a part of the teak deck of the USS Missouri (BB-63) where Great Hate II came to an end. I was touched beyond measure.
Noted Naval Historian and author Norman Polmar insisted on asking a question after my brief acceptance remarks. "So, what does the 'J.R.' stand for?" he said with his bulldog reporter face on.
I didn't miss a beat. "Juliet Romeo," I said, referring to the NATO-standard phonetic alphabet. It was witty, but I might be stuck with it when I was just settling in on being plain Vic.
The concluding remarks were by an officer that I admire greatly, and who has been a fantastic shipmate down through the years. He has had a major health event play out over the last year or so, but he and his lovely bride took decisive action and beat back the cancer. He looks great and his remarks reflected the boundless optimism with which he confronts all challenges. Paul defines class.
It was the best luncheon in years, even if I did have the deer-in-the-headlights look as a feature attraction.