Post-Event Blog 2017

NOUS Northwest Remembers Pearl Harbor at Arnie’s in Mukilteo

Arnie’s Restaurant in Mukilteo, WA was the site for NOUS Northwest’s first annual Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.  With a packed restaurant and bar, the mood was festive throughout the three-story waterfront setting.  And by the time we got to our program for the evening, a much more quiet atmosphere was in store as we paid tribute to those Maritime Service veterans who were attacked on the “day of infamy” 76 years ago at Pearl Harbor.

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Pearl Harbor – 7 December 2017 U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak

Sixteen Companions and spouses were in attendance:  Joe and Cindy Valenta; John and Cricket Laible; Harry and Nancy Stengele; Floyd and Carol Kershner; David and Kathleen Todd; Jim and Ann Wold; Dick and Claire Griffin; Curt Maier and Solon Webb.

A before-dinner toast was made to the memory of Chief John W. Screen Shot 2017-12-09 at 1.17.59 PMFinn, pictured at right,  the first medal of honor winner in World War II, namesake for USS John Finn, DDG-113 which was commissioned on 15 July of this year.  Our Commander, Companion CAPT Joe Valenta led us with raised glasses as we gave the following toast:

To John Finn, on the 76th anniversary of Pearl Harbor we reflect on his heroic actions that earned him the Medal of Honor.”

We are particularly proud to say that Chief Finn was also a fellow Companion of the Naval Order.  A brass bust was presented to the wardroom of USS John Finn on 29 June 2017 by  the Naval Order of the United States.  To read more about that ceremonial presentation and about Chief Finn, click HERE.  (Photo obtained from National NOUS website.)

Also before dinner, we had a chance to introduce ourselves and also to welcome new members.  A few photos taken during that part of the evening are shown below.

Joe gave a brief summary of the October 2017 Naval Order Congress in Jacksonville where he was recognized by Commander General Michele Lockwood for his Service Excellence to the Naval Order in guiding our Commandery to its charter and continued growth in membership.  The next Annual Congress will be 24-28 October 2018 in San Antonio, TX.

Joe also presented to CAPT Solon Webb, our Communications Officer (pictured at left), a Service Excellence Letter for SWebbIMG_1117his many contributions during the year including building our website:  Keeping a current website available for our Companions has improved our group’s overall effectiveness and has enhanced our group communications.  Solon also served as Membership Officer for part of 2017.

Companion Curt Maier, current Membership Officer, gave a very positive update that three new members are in the NOUS Northwest queue.  If anyone has any leads, be sure to contact Curt!

Our evening speaker was Commandery Historian Floyd Kershner.  His topic was “The First Admiral”, that being David G. Farragut, who, seeing his first action at only age 12 on USS Essex, would go on to become the first five star Admiral, during the Civil War.

Floyd’s knowledge of maritime/naval history is only matched by his enthusiasm to convey that information.  We look forward to more lessons from our maritime past in the coming year!

An article about the Navy’s first Admiral, from the San Francisco NOUS Commandery History files (pictured below), can also be obtained by clicking HERE.

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In other notes of interest, we recognized two couples with 50+ years of marriage!   Joe and Cindy Valenta (50) – below left, and John and Cricket Laible (55) below right.  (Cricket is the one with the really cool, sparkling red hat!)

Cricket also treated us to photos from the 21 August eclipse and John proudly showed us his new Coast Guard 100 Ton Masters license:

New arrivals from Alexandria, VA and the National Capital Commandery were Dick and Claire Griffin!  Dick is a retired Surface Warfare CAPT with thirty years of Naval service.  We welcome you both to the NOUS Northwest Commandery.  Below, Dick is introducing himself and Claire during the introduction part of the program.  Both sported appropriate “Beat Army” badges in preparation for the Army-Navy game the following day.  (Unfortunately, Army would win with a missed 48-yard field goal try by Navy, with 3 seconds left.  Final score:  Army 14, Navy 13)


Overall, it was a well-spent evening for remembering our Maritime Service ancestors and their history while also getting to know each other better in our newly-formed Commandery.  More photos from the evening are shown below:

We plan to return to Arnie’s 30 March 2018 when we will have our first Annual Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans Day dinner.  If you were unable to attend this year’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Dinner, we hope to see you next March at Arnie’s or at another Commandery event!

(Opening Navy photo of Pearl Harbor obtained from Navy website with following details quoted from that site:

PEARL HARBOR (Dec. 7, 2017) A U.S. Pacific Fleet Band member performs Taps on a bugle during the 76th Commemoration Event of the attacks on Pearl Harbor and Oahu at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam. The 76th commemoration, co-hosted by the U.S. Military, the National Park Service and the State of Hawaii, provided veterans, family members, service members and the community a chance to honor the sacrifices made by those who were present Dec. 7, 1941, as well as throughout the Pacific theater. Since the attacks, the U.S. and Japan have endured more than 70 years of continued peace, a cornerstone of security and prosperity in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. As a Pacific nation, the U.S. is committed to continue its responsibility of protecting the Pacific sea-lanes, advancing international ideals and relationships, well as delivering security, influence and responsiveness in the region. [U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katarzyna Kobiljak/Released])

Great Turnout at Navy Birthday/Veteran’s Day Brunch – 11 November


On Saturday, 11 November, NOUS Northwest companions (pictured above) and their families and friends enjoyed a great brunch and two history presentations at the All American Restaurant, Naval Station Everett.  Companion CAPT Joe Valenta (below) led the meeting by having each person introduce themself in addition to having several of the twenty-three attendees express their Veteran’s Day appreciation for all who have served.


One particularly interesting self-introduction was given by Companion (and aviator) LCDR Bill Boardman (below – left), who described his forced ejection from a Navy jet during his career, only to end up in, uhhh…… Crater Lake!  (No, this is not Ripley’s “Believe It or Not”)  Great intro Bill!


Companion Floyd Kershner (below) led off in the history part of the brunch by discussing the origin of the US Marine Corps sword.  Referring back to the Barbary Campaign, Floyd explained how Marine Lt. Presley O’Bannon, the heroic leader of the Battle of Derna, was presented the sword of a Tripolitan named Hamet.  That sword had a Mameluke hilt and became the model for all future Marine swords.  Pictured below, Floyd is holding one of those swords, with its lineage back to the Shores of Tripoli!  (Many thanks to the University of Washington’s Naval ROTC for the display sword.)


Joe followed Floyd with an overview of the US Navy’s first history from 1775 to 1814.  Joe used a Powerpoint presentation and video to highlight the key events during that time.  Individual battles, design characteristics of the original vessels, the role of Congress in funding, etc. all played important roles in the first of 242 years, a birthday which is celebrated annually on 13 October.  Joe’s presentation was a great lesson for anyone wanting a foundation in US Naval history.

Other photos taken during the brunch are provided below.


Be sure and mark your calendar for the next NOUS Northwest function at Arnie’s Restaurant in Mukilteo on 8 December.  That special dinner will be in remembrance of Pearl Harbor.

Luncheon at Ray’s Boathouse Welcomes New Members! – 9 August

It was a beautiful day for a luncheon at Ray’s Boathouse on the Sound on Wednesday, 9 August, when two new NOUS Northwest companions were introduced to the membership:  ENS Alex Sallander and Mark Thompson.  Another new member was also announced, CAPT Richard Griffin, but was unable to attend this meeting.  CAPT Griffin is transferring from the Capitol Commandery.

Former Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Tom Hayward provided an appropriate beginning for the meeting when he shared some naval experiences, followed by other companions who did the same.  It was a perfect day for a great meeting of our growing commandery!  Welcome aboard to Alex, Mark and Richard!

Photos of the luncheon are provided below.


(L-R) Curt Maier, Alex Sallander, Joe Valenta, John Laible, Mark Thompson, and ADM Tom Hayward


The Ensign and the CNO!

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(L-R) John Laible, Mark Thompson, and ADM Tom Hayward

NOUS Northwest Executive Council Meeting – 11 July

On Tuesday evening, 11 July, eight companions representing the NOUS Northwest Executive Council met at Shawn O’Donnell’s in Everett to discuss plans and programs for the coming year.  This preparatory work by the committee (pictured below) will contribute to the Annual Meeting, scheduled for 7 September in Mill Creek, WA.  All companions are encouraged to participate in the Annual Meeting, either in person or by conference call.  NOUS Northwest is at an exciting point in its initial development, having only been chartered since 6 January of this year.  Stay tuned via this website to learn more about what’s in store for the months and years ahead!


Battle of Midway Brunch – 10 June

On Saturday, 10 June, twenty-one NOUS Northwest companions, family and friends gathered together at the All American Restaurant at Naval Station Everett, WA to observe the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Midway.  The national NOUS website describes “The Naval Order of the United States (as being) the living history of our sea going services.”

IMG_4155 This Midway brunch was certainly in keeping with that description as CAPT Joe Valenta, (USN-Retired) guided the audience (including his grandson) through an excellent history lesson of this monumental battle of World War 2.

IMG_4165CAPT Valenta (right) opened the meeting with a summary of the Battle of Midway, including Japanese and American strategies, the advantages and disadvantages of both forces and their geographical positions leading up to the battle.  At that point, two videos were presented which were followed by a single slide summarizing the casualties resulting from the battle.

Once the formal presentations were completed, the group engaged in a question and answer session which proved to be quite lively!  NOUS Northwest certainly has a membership of avid and knowledgeable historians and everyone enjoyed the group interaction.  All attendees agreed that this type of presentation should be included in the Commandery’s planning of future events.

One example of the videos (below) included imagery of the USS Yorktown (CV-5) while trying to recover after the principal Midway battle.  However, the vessel would sink on June 7, 1942 from a Japanese submarine’s torpedo.


The photos below provide a good idea of the interest in the subject matter and also the camaraderie which all enjoyed while remembering Midway.  It is important to keep in mind that this battle took place only six months following the attack on Pearl Harbor.

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Dinner in Mukilteo – March 10



NOUS NW companions were treated to a wonderful waterfront evening on March 10, 2017 at Arnie’s Restaurant in Mukilteo, WA overlooking Puget Sound.  Sixteen attendees (ten members and six spouses) were all enlightened by CAPT John Laible (above) about the history of “The First Salute”.  A very appropriate topic for our first dinner as the NW Commandery!