Over the last two years, a special relationship has developed between two local Navy commands, the Naval Diving and Salvage Training Center (NDSTC) aboard Naval Support Activity Panama City, and the Port St. Joe Naval Junior ROTC (PSJNJROTC). Extremely divergent in their missions, these commands have grown together to the betterment of both and have generated a true sense of friendship and respect.
In need of an active duty Inspecting Officer for their Annual Inspection and Review in 2012, LCDR Marty Jarosz, Senior Naval Science Instructor at PSJNJROTC contacted NDSTC’s Commanding Officer CDR Michael Egan for support. What Jarosz, and the Cadets were soon to find out was that CDR Egan’s middle name was Support and that his enthusiasm and motivation were keys to his Command’s exceptional mission accomplishments.
Having been impressed by our Cadet’s performance at the Review, CDR Egan invited the company to visit NDSTC and see first-hand what Navy Divers do and how they train. An outstanding tour ensued and friendships and links were forged for future joint ventures.
CDR Egan, on short notice, was once again called upon to fill the billet of Inspecting Officer in February when all NJROTC travel was cancelled due to sequestration. Without hesitation, he reviewed our Cadets and was extremely impressed with their professionalism, demeanor and growth. Another trip was set up to visit NDSTC and observe an actual dive aboard one of the command’s training vessels, but sequestration got the better of the plan, and that trip is now scheduled for this fall.
The only thing constant in life is change, and CDR Egan’s tour as Commanding Officer ended Sept. 6. A phone call, however, requesting support from Port St Joe Junior-Senior High School for this extremely important event, made it one more link in the chain forged in respect and support.
A Navy Change of Command is a time-honored tradition and is an extremely important part in the life of a Naval Unit. Command of the unit is passed in front of the entire complement of personnel to ensure that all are aware that there is no lapse in leadership. Normally the ceremony is supported by an active duty Color Guard and the Navy Band. CDR Egan requested that PSJNJROTC provide the Ceremonial Color Guard and, if possible, that the Port St Joe Band of Gold, who he was extremely impressed with at both reviews, be available to play the National Anthem. Additionally he invited upper class cadets to participate in the ceremony.
A unique opportunity, the PSJNJROTC Cadets attended the NDSTC Change of Command where Commander Michael E. Egan was relieved by CDR Hung Cao. The Ceremonial Honor Guard led by Cadet Zachory Jasinski included Cadets Megan Hubbard, Matthew Rocha, and Claudia Gref, performed flawlessly and Mitch Bouington and the Band of Gold not only played the National Anthem, but added the Port St. Joe Fight Song at the end of the ceremony to the delight of all. Senior Cadets, led by Cadet Company Commander Robert Dykes witness this time honored tradition with professionalism and a little bit of excitement
Though CDR Egan has left for duty in Washington, DC, he leaves behind a legacy of friendship and support that will be long remembered at Port St Joe Junior-Senior High. His relief, CDR Hung Cao, has picked up where CDR Egan has left off and is already planning his visit to Port St Joe to inspect and review the Cadets. The Cadets and the Band of Gold wish to thank CDR Egan for the opportunity to participate in such an important event, and wish him “Fair Winds and Following Seas” as he moves to his next “Navy Adventure.” Hoo Ya!