The Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT), located onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida, celebrated the Navy’s 245th birthday with a series of in-person and virtual events that began the week of Oct. 5.
Even though gatherings are restricted and the opportunity to celebrate in person isn’t available with COVID-19 mitigation measures in place, CIWT came up with ways to include everyone and still continue the tradition of Navy birthday festivities.
“The Navy is the thing we all decided to join and serve our country through, whether it’s just a few years or a full career,” said Lt. Hannah Kilpatrick, a CIWT staff member and CIWT event coordinator for the Navy’s birthday celebration. “It’s important to celebrate that and also the history of our Navy because that’s the history of our country too. The theme is perfect for that, it’s ‘Victory at Sea’ celebrating our accomplishments throughout the history of the Navy up to now.”
The events included daily Navy history trivia questions where members answered via email and various raffles for prizes. Keeping with traditional Navy birthday celebrations, the event also featured a live ceremony and a contactless cake cutting where CIWT staff were offered a piece of cake by the commanding officer, executive director, executive officer and command master chief, delivered to their car in a safe, physically-distanced, drive through manner.
Capt. Marc Ratkus, CIWT’s commanding officer, stressed the importance of having an event like this among all of the challenges that the Navy has faced this year.
“Though this year’s theme is ‘Victory at Sea’, honoring the greatest generation and the sacrifices they made to ensure our freedom, we would be remiss if we did not honor our health care professionals, first responders, and all lives lost,” said Ratkus. “This year  represents a turning point in our nation’s history, bookended by the pandemic and struggles for equality, dignity, respect, and fair treatment of all.”
Although CIWT wasn’t able to celebrate in a manner the command usually would for something like the Navy birthday, the Sailors and staff continue to adapt and do what is possible to elevate morale and continue the mission.
“The events are pretty simplistic, but we’re doing what we can to ensure we navigate this COVID era safely.” offered Kilpatrick. “It would be an easy thing to chalk it up to a loss and not do anything for the Navy birthday. However, my command leaders and I thought it was still important to do something to celebrate, even if it can’t be in the way we have normally. We are still together, it’s still our Navy and we are celebrating with cohesiveness and safety.”
CIWT Command Master Chief Francisco Vargas shared, “It is my wish that on this day made for heroes like you, to continue as a shining example of strength under adverse conditions and graciousness in uplifting situations. Thank you for your sacrifice and dedication in this difficult time as you give your 100% toward your duty. You are the true hero, and I hope that you will have a birthday celebration fit for a hero on this special day. Stay safe, healthy and Happy Birthday, Navy!”
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