By MC3 Michael Lopez
Navy Public Affairs
Support Element East, Detachment Southeast
The World Golf Village Renaissance Hotel roared to life as hundreds of service members and guests celebrated 242 years of service and tradition during a Navy Birthday Ball Oct. 21.
This year's theme was "Sea Power to Protect and Promote," and served as an opportunity to honor the proud history of the United States Navy, which traces its origins to the Continental Navy established Oct. 13, 1775
Guest speakers included Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Bill Moran and Congressman John Rutherford, Florida's 4th Congressional District.
"As the son of a Navy chief petty officer, I am always in awe of the noble service of our Sailors," said Rutherford.
"I am proud to gather with the men and women in this room who make up the greatest naval force in the world, and I am deeply honored to be representing so many active duty Sailors from Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Naval Station Mayport and Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay."
Rutherford thanked Sailors for their relief efforts this year during Hurricane Irma and Hurricane Matthew in 2016.
"In recent months we have not only seen how our Sailors here step up to global threats, but also how they respond to natural disasters," he said. "You all went above and beyond the call of duty to help the state of Florida by clearing debris, conducting rescue missions, providing food and shelter and providing medical equipment and infrastructure."
Serving as a celebration of the Navy's history of service, the event paid a special thanks to previous warriors, Prisoners of War (POW) and Medal of Honor recipient Robert Ingram, who was in attendance.
On March 28, 1966 as an HM3 serving with Company C, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines during the Vietnam War, Ingram was wounded while administering aid to a fallen Marine. While treating the Marine, Ingram heard more calls of "corpsman" and answered them. He spent the next several hours selflessly administering aid to fallen Marines after having fallen victim to a total of four bullets wounds during the attack.
"We all raised our right hands to take the oath to defend the United States Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic," said Moran. "Robert Ingram was put to the test, and he ultimately lived up to that oath we all took and became a shining example of what it is to truly be a teammate. It is hard for me to even describe the admiration I have for men like him and warriors and POWs from all of our military conflicts. I salute all of you."
Moran echoed Rutherford's thanks to Sailors for their efforts during tough times in recent months and years as they were affected by natural disasters.
"It's remarkable that we are here tonight because you all decided it's time for a celebration after all of the hard work this past summer," said Moran. "This summer you managed to get 10 ships underway when you had to, over 60 aircraft were evacuated, USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) joined some of our other vessels in provided relief efforts to the Florida Keys. Each installation represented here tonight played a critical role in establishing family emergency assistance centers, which allowed us to take care of over 5,000 evacuees from all over Florida and the Caribbean.
After his keynote speech, Moran presided over a reenlistment ceremony for four Sailors and thanked family members for their support.
"Each year it seems the demands of this century requires sailors to train harder and deploy at higher rates," said Moran. "And in this case, I know it must have been difficult watching and waiting for these storms to make landfall and waiting for orders to evacuate, but just like every other situation in our Navy, we had the strength of our spouses and families to back us up and get us through those tough times. To all the family members here tonight, I salute you for allowing all of us in uniform to complete the missions we're called to do."
The celebration concluded with a recognition of veterans, the presentation of a cake baked by CS1 Jakeila Owens and a toast. Navy Band Southeast's Brass Quintet provided music for the event.