NMCB-11 Honors Female Veterans at Armed Forces Retirement Home

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael 
130307-N-UH337-053 GULFPORT, Miss. (March 7, 2013) Cmdr. Lore Aguayo, right, commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 presents a plaque, on behalf of the women of NMCB-11, to Navy veteran Marion Ritchie who accepts on behalf of the women veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss.   The plaque reads "Thank you for paving the way for us.  From the Women of NMCB 11,  7 March 2013."  NMCB-11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response, and humanitarian assistance.  The battalion's homeport is in Gulfport, Miss.   (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)
130307-N-UH337-053 GULFPORT, Miss. (March 7, 2013) Cmdr. Lore Aguayo, right, commanding officer of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 presents a plaque, on behalf of the women of NMCB-11, to Navy veteran Marion Ritchie who accepts on behalf of the women veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss. The plaque reads “Thank you for paving the way for us. From the Women of NMCB 11, 7 March 2013.”  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

GULFPORT, Miss. – Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 honored female veterans with a visit to the Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH) where they had lunch with female veterans and presented a plaque to be displayed in the home.

The visit to honor the 54 female veterans residing in the AFRH came, fittingly, during Women’s History Month.

Cmdr. Lore Aguayo, commanding officer of NMCB-11 attended and spoke directly to the veterans on behalf her battalion.

“What an honor and a privilege it is for those of us currently on active duty to be able to be here with you today and enjoy this wonderful lunch with you.  In the 20 years that I’ve been in the Navy I’ve seen tremendous progress for women in the military, and I can only imagine, from your observation when you first came in, what you’ve seen to date,” said Aguayo.

Both groups, veterans and active duty members, appeared humbled as they shared stories with one another, realizing their common bond.

“We have come such a long way, and you all started it for us.  Thank you sincerely from the deepest part of our hearts.  We are in a debt of gratitude to you for what you did so that the rest of us can do what we do,” added Aguayo.

Navy veteran Marion Ritchie, who had recently celebrated her 96th birthday, accepted a plaque on behalf of the female veterans in the Gulfport AFRH. 

The plaque read, “Thank you for paving the way for us. From the Women of NMCB 11; 7 March 2013.”

Women’s Wellness Council leader, Yeoman 1st Class Maria A. Manchion, originally from Parkersburg, W.V., organized the visit.

130307-N-UH337-060 GULFPORT, Miss. (March 7, 2013) Current and former Navy yeomen pose together for a photo at the Armed Forces Retirement Home where the women of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 were honoring female veterans in recognition of Women's History Month.  Pictured are Marion Ritche, left, Yeoman 1st Class Desiree D. Wade, Master Chief Yeoman (retired) Heather Baird, and Yeoman 1st Class Maria D. Manchion, right.  Ritchie holds a plaque that she accepted from the women of NMCB-11 on behalf of the women veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss.   The plaque reads "Thank you for paving the way for us.  From the Women of NMCB 11,  7 March 2013."  NMCB-11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response, and humanitarian assistance.  The battalion's homeport is in Gulfport, Miss.   (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

130307-N-UH337-060 GULFPORT, Miss. (March 7, 2013) Current and former Navy yeomen pose together for a photo at the Armed Forces Retirement Home where the women of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 11 were honoring female veterans in recognition of Women’s History Month. Pictured are Marion Ritche, left, Yeoman 1st Class Desiree D. Wade, Master Chief Yeoman (retired) Heather Baird, and Yeoman 1st Class Maria A. Manchion, right. Ritchie holds a plaque that she accepted from the women of NMCB-11 on behalf of the women veterans at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport, Miss. The plaque reads “Thank you for paving the way for us. From the Women of NMCB 11; 7 March 2013.” (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Carmichael / Released)

“Sitting in that room with all that history and experience was very emotional for all of us as women on active duty.  It gave me new insight and appreciation of the things they experienced and what they went through as females in a male dominated military.” 

It seems that the appreciation was mutual. 

“The ladies at our table kept telling us we made them look good and to keep it up.  We kept telling them we wouldn’t be here without them,” added Manchion.

The common sentiment expressed by Sailors immediately following the visit was that of a heightened sense of responsibility to continue the progress forged by the veterans in regard to women serving in the military.

NMCB-11 is a Seabee battalion specializing in contingency construction, disaster response, and humanitarian assistance. The Battalion is home-ported in Gulfport, Miss.

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