When Alan Beam was a young sailor and docked in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after time at sea, he was greeted by the local Navy League.
“They met us on the pier,” Beam said. “They fell all over us making us feel welcome and thanking us for our service.”
Beam never forgot what that meant to him. And that is why he is now an active member — and president — of the Bremerton Olympic Peninsula Council of the U.S. Navy League.
Beam has been a member since 1991, after he retired in the area following a long Navy career. He retired as a captain and was commander of the USS Bremerton.
Founded in 1902 with the encouragement of President Theodore Roosevelt, the Navy League of the United States (NLUS) is a civilian organization supporting the Navy, Coast Guard, Marine Corps and U.S.-flagged Merchant Marine. It is a worldwide organization with 46,000 members in more than 250 councils, including more than 700 corporate and community affiliate members.
The objectives of the League are to educate national leaders and the public about the vital importance of a capable and fully prepared Sea Services, to support the men and women of the sea services and their families, and to educate and train youth in the customs and traditions of the Navy, the Marine Corps, the Coast Guard, and the Merchant Marine.
The Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council area is located on the Olympic Peninsula between Seattle and the Pacific Ocean with Canada to the North across the Straits of Juan de Fuca. It is a member of the Northwest Coastal Area within the Northwest Region of the Navy League of the United States. Naval Base Kitsap, Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Naval Magazine Indian Island, and U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles lie within that area.
“We have almost 500 members, and have grown to be the largest council in the Pacific Northwest,” said Beam. “Through our adoption program we directly support eight local commands.”
• USS Bremerton (SSN 698)
• USS Henry M Jackson (SSBN 730)
• USS Washington (SSN 787)
• U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Port Angeles
• U.S. Coast Guard Base Seattle
• U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Protection Unit Bangor
• Marine Corps Security Force Battalion Bangor
• Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific
Additionally, the council sponsors and supports the Kitsap Battalion of the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps and the South Kitsap, Bremerton and Port Angeles Naval Junior ROTC high School programs, and the state science fair.
“One of the things we do is provide scholarships and judges for the Washington State Science and Engineering Fair,” he said. “It’s a major event.”
The Bremerton Olympic Peninsula Navy League also sponsors and participates in the Bremerton Armed Forces Festival, the nation’s largest Armed Forces Day Parade, and hosts the Kitsap County Veterans Day Ceremony attended by more than 1,800 annually at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds on Veterans Day.
Acquainting the public with the Navy is another goal of the Navy League.
“Our ‘Trips and Tours’ program is the largest in the region providing valuable insight into the mission and roles of west coast sea service units, including coordinating underway cruises, ship commissionings and decommissionings,” Beam said. “We also participate in ship arrival and departure receptions, Memorial Day, Battle of Midway Island, Pearl Harbor Day and various other military celebrations.”
It is through the corporate and business sponsorships (called community affiliates) and through membership dues that the League obtains funds to support the programs it sponsors, Beam said.
“The League is open to anyone, except active duty Navy,” he said. “We encourage anyone who wants to learn about and help the active duty Navy in this area to join.”
Individual memberships range from $25 to $55 annually. The group hosts a monthly lunch meeting on the third Tuesday of each month.
“For small business owners, this (the lunch meetings) is a great way to network,” he said.
Supporting the Navy and the military in this area is important, Beam said.
“The Navy League is a way of learning about the Navy around here and all that that encompasses,” he said. “And that’s a pretty big deal.”
More information about the Navy League of the United States, as well as information about how to join the NLUS, can be found at http://bremolympicnlus.wordpress.com or call 360-479-8707.
Leslie Kelly can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story originally appeared in the Military Appreciation Day special section published by Kitsap News Group March 10, 2017. It appeared as a supplement in the Bainbridge Island Review, Central Kitsap Reporter, North Kitsap Herald and Port Orchard Independent.