A dedication ceremony was held Dec. 7 to rename the Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville Emergency Operations Center (EOC) after former NAS Jax Emergency Management Officer (EMO) Ray Edmond Sr. who passed away April 9, 2018.
The ceremony, attended by his wife, Claribel; their children, Ray Jr., Angelica, and Angelina; daughter, Qiana Smith; mother, Juanita; father and mother-in-law Antonio and Expedita Vargas, along with other family members, friends, numerous co-workers paid tribute to his life and time as NAS Jax EM.
NAS Jax Commanding Officer Capt. Michael Connor welcomed the guests and thanked them for attending to honor Edmond who served as the station’s first EMO when the position was established in August 2008.
“The EOC has certainly not been the same without Ray,” said Connor. “We recently marked the end of hurricane season – I think it was Ray’s favorite season. Since summer, I have often thought about what Ray would be doing or what advice he would be giving me. As storms began threatening the region, I would chuckle, vividly remembering the past when Ray would tell me not to worry. He had it covered and would let me know when it was time to worry.”
“He was more than an employee or a peer, he was a friend. I enjoyed our discussions in the early morning hours at the fitness center,” said Connor. “We all know his Navy history and his legacy here. To us, he is the founding father of our EOC, building it up from the deck plates, just like any good Navy chief would do when faced with a mission.”
Connor then presented his wife and children with the Department of the Navy Superior Civilian Service Award in honor of Edmond’s service as NAS Jax EMO and outstanding leadership and preparedness during the 2016-17 Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. He also earned the recognition for providing more than 300 personnel special Federal Emergency Management Agency training, saving the Navy over $300,000.
As the guests looked on, Connor and Ray (RJ) Edmond Jr., unveiled a new plaque outside the EOC commemorating the former EMO.
“This day is a legacy for my children,” said Claribel Edmond. “It gives affirmation as to who Ray was and how humble he was. He would never take credit for anything and wouldn’t think he would be worthy of all this. That’s why I’m so glad this is happening, because he was so worthy of being recognized and was a great man. I’m so very, very touched for what everyone has done and grateful that everyone here loved him so much.”
After retiring from the Navy with 24 years of honorable service, Edmond worked for the Florida Department of Health, Office of Disaster Preparedness as the EM planner, trainer and consultant. In 2008, he graduated from Southern Illinois University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Workforce Education/Development and Instructional Design and was hired as the NAS Jax EMO. Here, he ensured the command could effectively plan, respond, and operate the EOC during any natural or man-made crisis. His expertise and dedication to the command earned him recognition as the 2018 NAS Jax Civilian of the Year.
“This ceremony today centered around Ray and his family, not the job,” said NAS Jax Installation Training Team Coordinator Jim Butters, a close friend and colleague. “It is great to recognize his as the first EMO at NAS Jax and pay tribute to his legacy.”