Recent News

Navy League Dinner – September 28, 2018

After a summer hiatus, the Denver Council kicked off the fall season with a meeting at the Hilton Garden Inn Denver Airport on Friday evening, September 28th.

The first order of business was the presentation of Theodore Roosevelt Youth Medals to Itzela Kilmer, Training Ship Colorado, and to Savannah Nix, Lexington Division. Congratulations to both for their outstanding leadership.

Sea Cadet Awards – September 28, 2018

LTJG David Gillfillan and LTJG Greg Hall then gave a brief presentation about the activities of the Sea Cadets. Recent trainings included NLCC Orientation, NLCC STEM Training, a trip from New London, CT to Baltimore, MD aboard the Coast Guard Barque Eagle, Recruit Training at Great Lakes, as well as medical and submarine training. We are very proud of both divisions of the Denver area Sea Cadets.

Steve Kelly, Regional President of the Western Region, presented a plaque to the Denver Council Board of Directors as the Denver Council was honored as an Outstanding Council by the Navy League National Executive Board.

Our guest speaker for the evening was Mike Silva, a Colorado native, whose journey has taken him to Vietnam as a helicopter pilot, a stint as a police officer in the Denver area, work as a helicopter pilot for Channel 4 News and to Iraq performing medical evaluations.

Mike’s presentation focused on “The Chase”, a harrowing situation in 1988 when a young man made some very poor decisions. After robbing a bank, he proceeded to escape in a car, where he rammed police cars chasing him, and eventually killed an officer by running him down. Along the way, he attempted to hijack a car driven by a young woman with a small baby, and then kidnapped an elderly man and held him at gunpoint. Mike, following his instincts, trailed the suspect in his helicopter until the police caught up with him.  The young man died after refusing to surrender to police.

Mike Silva presenting at the Denver Council Dinner.

Mike pointed out, especially to the young people present, that being good is a continuous work in progress. To be good, you must make decisions every day to be a good person. It is important to surround yourself with those who share your values and want to help you succeed. This was a riveting presentation, and we are grateful for people like Mike, who have the courage to step up and make community a safer place.

Finally, JJ Mackin gave a brief update on USS Colorado. The crew performed very well during the certification process. They are about to go out on sea trials and expect to be a “fully delivered” fleet asset by mid-October. The commissioning committee plans to establish a scholarship fund for the crew families, which will be administered by the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation. A re-organization meeting is planned for October 13th to develop a plan for long-term support for the boat.

Navy League Gala – May 18, 2018

We were pleased to have many guests on Friday evening at our May 18th Gala, including the Sea Service Academy Appointees, NROTC scholarship recipients, four crew members from USS Colorado, members of the US Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit, the Sea Cadets, and our guest speaker, retired Admiral Jerry Burroughs.

Dan Puleio opened the meeting by asking the Service Academy Appointees and NROTC scholarship recipients to introduce themselves.  The visiting crewmembers did the same and told the group about their experiences in Colorado during their week-long visit.

Dan presented the Denver Council’s annual donation to LTJG David Gilfilian, the Commanding Officer of the Sea Cadet Unit.   Our donation helps support the Sea Cadet Training activities through the year.

 

The Denver Council has adopted the Coast Guard Cryptologic Unit located at Buckley AFB.   We were honored to have the unit’s Commanding Officer, LCDR Grant Thomas and the Sailor of the Year, IS2 James Lenkiewicz with us.

 

 

JJ Mackin, Chairman of the USS Colorado Commissioning Committee gave a brief update on the final activities of the Committee and the crew visit this week.  He awarded an “Honorary Plankowner” plaque to the Denver Council in thanks for your support of the Committee and PCU Colorado during the four years leading up to Commissioning.

 

 

The highlight of the evening was the address given by Admiral Burroughs.  Thirty-seven years ago, he was introduced to the Navy Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) Program.  His interest in the technology and favorable impression of those people he met led him to “go Navy”.  The sense of team accomplishment, of shipmates bonded by a common goal and mission, and service to country drove him to make the Navy his career.

At the beginning of his career, the world during the Cold War was a tense place, but today we live in an increasingly complex and dangerous world.  China and Russia are formidable adversaries, and we also face threats from North Korea, Iran, and ISIS.

Admiral Burroughs thanked the young people for their willingness to serve our country, for it is the people who chose to serve that make our Navy the best in the world.   They can expect to be challenged continually to take on responsibility.  They will work hard during long days and weekends but he reminded them that to excel requires hard work.  They will grow in ways that they can’t now imagine.

He urged them to step up to their responsibilities, but also to have fun and enjoy their experiences.  His advised them to know their jobs and do them to the best of their ability, to take on opportunities to lead people, and to never accept mediocrity.  The Navy is a “team sport” – “Take care of your people and they will take care of you.”

Admiral Burroughs closed with a story about the Officer of the Deck at the time when the USS Fitzgerald collided with a Japanese freighter, causing the deaths of seven sailors.  She recently pled guilty to dereliction of duty.  She got a tattoo on her arm that read, “Take care of your people” with seven shamrocks to honor those who died.  She admitted that she had not taken care of her people, but she was also let down by her superiors.  He reminded them to know when they are in trouble and to ask for help.

What a wonderful opportunity this was for the new graduates just taking their first steps into the service to listen to the advice of someone who was once in their shoes and went on to have a highly successful career in the Navy.

Navy Legislative Affairs Round-up – May 18, 2018

Navy League Legislative Affairs Round-Up – May 11, 2018

Navy League Legislative Affairs Round-Up – May 4, 2018

Navy League Dinner – March 23, 2018

On Friday, March 23rd, the Denver Council was honored to have as our guest speaker Captain Jamie Fraser-Loria, who currently serves as the Division Chief for the Strategic Threats Division, Directorate of Intelligence, NORAD/USNORTHCOM.

Captain Fraser-Loria gave a pertinent talk about the Sea Service Culture, and how it will meet the evolving challenges of today’s world.

She discussed how that today we live in a world that presents a grim operating environment for warfare.  There is increased connectivity and instability.  Populations are aware of economic disparities, while feeling unempowered. There is a lack of trust in government due to the ineffectiveness of the state to provide security for its people.  Rapid technological advances have changed not only the way we function as human beings, but also the way we relate to one another.

The values of the Sea Services are the bedrock of its culture. We must stay true to the core values of duty, service, sacrifice and resilience, and at the same time instill and reinforce these values in our future leaders.  The ‘culture of command’ is vital.  We need to be able to trust decision makers at the lowest levels, allowing them independence and freedom of action.  Adaptivity and innovation, the willingness to accept fresh ideas, will make sailors more effective in carrying out their missions.  The X-Box controller, which is now used on USS Colorado to control the photonic masts, is a prime example of this.  It was a pleasure to listen to Captain Fraser-Loria’s very interesting talk.

Capt Fraser-Loria with Nina Johnson, PS2 Lamar Johnson and NOSC Command Senior Chief Todd Lowe.

We were also pleased to present a plaque to the Denver NOSC Sailor of the Year, PS2 Lamar Johnson, who was joined by his lovely wife, Nina, and Command Senior Chief Todd Lowe.

LTJG Greg Hall presented on the activities of the Lexington Division Sea Cadets this year, including their cold weather exercises in January, aviation training in February, and their annual inspection in March.

 

 

 

 

The watch is set onboard USS Colorado during her commissioning ceremony.

Finally, JJ Mackin gave an update on the commissioning of USS Colorado, which occurred on Saturday, March 17, 2018 in Groton, CT.   A large group from the state was able to attend the ceremony.  For those who were not able to attend, here is a link to a YouTube video of the ceremony: https://youtu.be/Rkm5wBQ8SCY.   More pictures are available on the Commissioning Committee website.

 

 

Navy League Dinner – January 19, 2018

We were honored to have David Soucie as our guest speaker.  Mr. Soucie is an aviation safety expert and a crusader for safety on the skies. He gave us a very interesting presentation on how we think about things and how that affects our actions, especially in challenging environments.  Our brains are lazy with no innate sense of what makes us safe.  We need to continually exercise our brains to avoid an “atrophy of vigilance.”  He presented an “awareness triangle” that includes six steps:

  • Recognize – What am I doing? What is different?
  • Environmentalize – Where am I? What is the present risk?
  • Prioritize – What is the most urgent now?
  • Analyze – What alternative actions can I take?
  • Institutionalize – Have I done this before? Did it work?
  • Realize – No two situations are exactly the same. Am I biased based upon previous experience?  Am I on auto-pilot?

Mr. Soucie provided a glimpse into what is being done to improve airline safety today and gave us some food for thought in how we approach decision making in our daily lives.

Sunday Dinner at Heather Grove Veterans’ Home – November 26, 2017

On Sunday, November 26, 10 Sea Cadets and 7 adult staff members from the Lexington Division served dinner to about 37 residents of Heather Grove in Denver.  The group brought and served pie and apple cider for dessert.

The cadets joined the residents for the dessert to converse with them about their time in the service. These folks are military veterans from various branches, and served from the Korean War to the Gulf conflicts.

 

Navy League Dinner – November 17, 2017

Our guest speaker on Friday evening was Richard Rieckenberg, a US Navy Nuclear Cold War Submarine Officer.   He served on four attack submarines and the USS Nimitz (CVN-68).  After he retired from the Navy, he worked as the Mass Care Chief for the American Red Cross. He currently works with the two

Dan Puleio thanking our guest speaker, Richard Rieckenberg and his wife, Maria.

USAF Research Laboratories aerospace directorates at Kirkland AFB in Albuquerque where he mentors senior leaders and gives motivational seminars to develop leadership capability among the military and civilian employees.

Richard shared a compelling story about how two young Lieutenants serving aboard USS Ray (SSN-653) were willing to risk their lives to return to the ship in very dangerous situation off the coast of Sousse, Tunisia in the summer of 1980.  One of the Lieutenants was able to complete a reactor start-up to provide power to the ship and avoid a potentially dangerous situation with an ammunition ship.

Richard posed the question –  How do you instill such passion and commitment to a cause that people are willing to risk their lives for that cause?   Unit cohesion is one element.  There must be trust with others in the unit, and a shared enemy or opportunity.  More importantly, the cause must be perceived as meaningful.  People aren’t afraid to work hard, but generally don’t do so for meaningless work.  The question stimulated some interesting discussion in the room, and provided much food for thought.

CDR ReneeTanaka, Commanding Officer of the Naval Recruiting District Denver presented the NRD’s Recruiter and Sailor of the Year Awards to EN1 Nicholas Juliano and NC1 Stephanie Varnell.   CDR Tanaka will be relieved by CDR Christopher Webber on December 1, 2017.  CDR Tanaka’s next assignment will be as Navigator aboard USS Carl Vinson.

EN1 Nicholas Juliano is pictured with his sister, Jennifer Masters, receiving the Recruiter of the Year Award.

NC1 Stephanie Varnell, with her husband, Josh, receiving the NRD Sailor of the Year award from CDR Tanaka.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commanding Officer of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps Training Ship Colorado, LTJG David Gilfillan, gave us an update on the junior and senior Sea Cadet units’ latest exploits.

JJ Mackin, Chairman of the USS Colorado Commissioning Committee, gave an update on the last crew visit to Colorado from October 9th through October 14th, and the Veterans’ Day Ceremony at the University Memorial Center at CU, Boulder.  He shared the good news that the March 17, 2018 has been approved by the Navy.  If you would like to receive an invitation to the commissioning, please sign up at the USS Colorado Commissioning Committee website.

Rocky Mountain Navy October 2017 Newsletter

Colorado Completes Sea Trials – Delivered to the Navy

PCU Colorado returned from sea trials on August 30, completing both Alpha and Bravo trials.  The crew performed extremely well, testing the boat to her design limits. After completing her third major sea trial, INSURV trial, the ship was delivered to the Navy on September 21st. Colorado was “delivered” to the Navy this morning, September 21st. This means that the construction period is complete and the Navy considers the ship operational.

 

 

Navy News Publishes Article on the USS Grayling Memorial.

The Navy News recently published an article submitted by NIOC Colorado about  the USS Grayling Memorial,  Click here to read the story in full.

 

 

 

 

Navy League Dinner – September 22, 2017

Major General H. Michael Edwards, USAF (Ret) was the guest speaker at the Navy League dinner on September 22nd. General Edwards recently retired as the Adjutant General of Colorado, where he commanded the Colorado National Guard.

General Edwards reminded us about the mission and activities of the National Guard, which serves as the primary combat reserves of the Army and the Air Force. It is a fully operational force, always ready to go. This group works closely with other services on joint operations to ensure that our military works efficiently and effectively to accomplish its mission. Today, National Guard members from Colorado are in Texas and Florida, helping the recovery efforts in those states after the recent natural disasters there. The Air Guard has been on constant alert since 911 and is responsible for covering our air space from Kansas City to Salt Lake City.

General Edwards also educated us on the State Partnership Program, which began at the end of the Cold War, where State National Guard unites began working with Eastern Bloc countries as they developed their militaries. In 1993 Colorado partnered with Slovenia and soon began sending exchange officers to work on developing an NCO Corps, a Chaplain Corps and Special Forces. These efforts culminated when Slovenia deployed six teams to Afghanistan in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The Colorado National Guard has also partnered with Jordan since 2004. General Edwards described Jordan as a “beacon of light in a rough neighborhood.”  A poor country with few natural resources, Jordan has been very open in accepting refugees.  Jordan has invested in developing this human capital and in moderating the Islamic message. Its relatively small military force is about the same size as the Colorado National Guard and Air National Guard. They use the same type of equipment and the same organizational structure. Given the time to work together and really listen to the needs of our partners, members of the Colorado Guard have developed very close friendships with their counterparts in both Slovenia and Jordan.  Programs such as this one lay the groundwork not only for a strong military defense, but also a lasting peace.

General Edward’s talk was a good reminder of how much we owe the citizen soldiers, who serve in the Colorado National Guard, for their willing to protect us in times of natural disasters and in times of war

USS Grayling (SS 209) Memorial Ceremony – September 9, 2017

Pictured to the right at USS Colorado Commissioning Committee Chairman, John Mackin, Rear Admiral Kerry Metz and Denver Council President, Dan Puleio at the USS Grayling (SS 209) Memorial Ceremony at Sloan’s Lake Park in Denver.  This event is sponsored each year by the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. to honor the crew of USS Grayling, one of 52 submarines lost in World War II.  A retired SEAL, Rear Admiral Metz commended the bravery of the crew of SS 209 and drew parallels between the submarine community in WWII and his own SEAL community.  Despite their small size, both groups showed enduring courage in their willingness to take on the most dangerous missions in support of our country.

 

 

Erie Air Fair – Saturday, August 12th

USS Colorado Commissioning Committee members, Dick Cooper, Chris Nielson, Florence Mackin, John Mackin and Dan Puleio, at the Erie Air Fair on Saturday, August 12th.  Not pictured are Bruce Nielson and Wil Zurliene, who were out working the crowd.

We distributed over 100 USS Colorado Brochures in an effort to spread the word that the state of Colorado will soon be honored with a Virginia Class submarine commissioned in her name.

 

USS Colorado Commissioning Committee – July 21, 2017

Friday, July 21st was a busy day for several members of the USS Colorado Commissioning Committee. The Committee, in conjunction with sponsor Charles Schwab, presented a framed picture of the ship’s crest to Senator Cory Gardner.

Committee member & Charles Schwab employee, Ryan Schwab, presents a framed picture of the ship’s crest to Senator Cory Gardner.

On hand were Committee members Ryan Schwab, Dick Cooper and Florence Mackin along with several members of Charles Schwab at the Schwab campus in Lone Tree. Several members of Senator Gardner’s staff were also on hand, including 3 interns working for the summer in his Denver office. The Senator was interested in the activities of the committee over the past 3 years, including the production of the ship’s bell by noted Colorado sculptor, George Lundeen, and the installation of photographs by Colorado nature photographer, John Fielder, in the crew’s mess. The Senator was proud to add his signature to our “traveling” picture of a Virginia Class submarine.   He expressed his appreciation for the picture of the ship’s crest, which will hang in his office in Washington, DC.

At about the same time, Committee Chair JJ Mackin assisted Congressman Ed Perlmutter and Colorado’s new Adjutant General, Major General Michael Loh, in honoring Vietnam-era Veterans in a ceremony at Red Rocks Community College.

John Mackin, Major General Michael Loh, and Congressman Perlmutter presenting a certificate of appreciation and lapel pin to a Vietnam Veteran.

Over 50 veterans of the era were presented with Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pins. This was the fifth such ceremony Congressman Perlmutter has organized. for more information about the program visit: https://perlmutter.house.gov/…/vietnam-war-50th-commemorati….

 

 

 

 

RADM Dietrich Kuhlmann – July 10 2017

RADM Dietrich Kuhlmann presenting in an event hosted by the Denver Council on July 10, 2017.

The Denver Council hosted an event for  “Friends of the Navy” organizations featuring OPNAV N80, Rear Admiral Dietrich Kuhlmann, on July 10, 2017. The subject of his exceptionally informative talk was “The State of the World from the Navy’s Perspective.”  About 40 people from various military support organizations attended.

 

 

 

 

Bill Signing – June 5, 2017 

Governor John Hickenlooper signed the Appropriations Bill for USS Colorado on June 5, 2017 flanked by members of the Commissioning Committee.

 

 

 

 

Navy League Gala – May 19, 2017

We were honored to have retired Navy Captain Buddy Wellborn present a very informative and interesting talk on China in the 21st Century, including the aggressive militarization that we have seen in recent years.  In response, the United States must remain vigilant in maintaining strategic relationships and an evolving military presence in the Far East in order to counter the threat.

 

Council President, Dan Puleio, thanks Buddy Wellborn with a USS Constitution coin for his presentation to the Denver Council.

 

 

We were also honored to have Denver area appointees to the Naval, Coast Guard, and Merchant Marine Academies, as well as NROTC scholarships recipients, pictured on the right with their family members, join us.

Maria Secrest, Regional Director of the office of US Senator Cory Gardner, read a letter from the Senator thanking these young people for their willingness to serve their country and wishing them much success as they begin their college careers.

Tri-Service Awards at CU Boulder – April 20, 2017

Denver Council President Dan Puleio presented Midshipman Amber Spawn the Council’s top leadership award at the CU Boulder Tri-Service awards ceremony.  Midshipman Spawn, a graduating senior, has been selected for flight training.  She will first spend a year in Israel, earning a Master’s Degree in counter terrorism..

 

 

Rocky Mountain Navy – April 12, 2017

 

 

Retired Navy Captain Dick Life presented an informative talk entitled, “Understanding Russian Leaders to the members of the Rocky Mountain Navy Association.

 

 

Navy League Dinner – March 24, 2017

Captain Brian Quin, Commanding Officer of USS Essex (LHD 2) was the guest speaker at our dinner on March 24, 2017.  The USS Essex is home ported in San Diego, CA and carries a complement of 1,200 sailors and marines.  The ship’s mission is to take Marine rifleman and ordinance anywhere in the world at a time of our choosing.  Captain Quin shared photos of the ship’s 2016 deployment to the Gulf and back, where he and his crew supported 93 strike missions in Syria and Iraq.  He spoke with great pride of dedication and maturity of the young sailors on his crew, who have volunteered to defend the American way of life.

USS Essex is currently undergoing an extended planned maintenance availability period to upgrade computer and weapon systems, and the deck to support the new Joint Strike Fighter.  Captain Quin also addressed our country’s need to adapt to ever evolving challenges to maintain sea control in a changing world.
Pictured to the right are Denver Council Dan Puleio thanking Captain Quin for his very interesting and inspiring talk.

At the meeting, we also presented a plaque honoring the NOSC Sailor of the Year, pictured here with his lovely wife, who was also thanked for her support.

 

 

JJ Mackin, Chair of the USS Colorado Commissioning Committee, showed a new promotional video, produced by Mountain Time Media for the USS Colorado. Click here to see the video.

Regional SeaPerch Competition – March 11, 2017

The Regional SeaPerch (underwater remotely operated vehicle) competition was held on Saturday, March 11 at the University of Colorado Student Recreation Center on the Boulder campus.  The Navy Recruiting District Denver officiated at the competition, which included 15 local area high schools.  Ponderosa, Monarch, and Overland High Schools were extended an invitation to compete at the national level on May 19 & 20 at Georgia Tech, Atlanta, GA. The Denver Council and Rocky Mountain Navy Assn graciously offered to cover the pizza lunch expense for the 200 students, faculty, parents, and Navy officials. Click here to see the competition photo album.  You can find more information on the national program at the SeaPerch website.

Commanding Officer of the Navy Recruiting District Denver, CDR Renee Tanaka, hosted the Regional Sea Perch competition at CU Boulder’s Student Recreation Center, Saturday, 11 March 2017

 

 

Valentine’s Day Visit to Heather Grove

On February 14th, members of the Navy League delivered snacks, sweets and personalized cards to the Military Veterans at Heather Grove assisted Living Center. This and previous visits were sincerely appreciated by the residents who asked that the relationship be continued for other special occasions.

 

USS Colorado Crew Visit – January 24 to 28
The USS Colorado Commissioning Committee was honored to host USS Colorado crew members Executive Officer LCDR Steve Col, Chief of the Boat ETCM Freddie Richter, ETN1 Kyle Rowe and MMN2 Tyler Magers in late January. During their time in our state, they visited the Center for American Values and the Medal of Honor Memorial in Pueblo. They gave presentations on the Navy, submarines and the value of STEM education at Golden High School and at Panorama Middle School in Colorado Springs. They toured the Charles Schwab campus in Lone Tree with Committee Member Ryan Schwab and were hosted at lunch by the Military Veterans Network at Western Union. On Friday, January 27th, they attended Military Appreciation Day at the State Capital.

 

Navy League Dinner – January 20, 2017
On January 20, the Denver Council hosted retired Navy Captain Mike McGrath as our principal speaker. Mike spent almost six years as a “guest” at the infamous Hanoi Hilton after his plane was shot down in Vietnam. Mike spoke movingly of the importance of having strong core values and the power and resilience of the human spirit, even in the worst of circumstances.   We were also pleased to recognize the NOIC Sailors of the Year.

We were also pleased to honor the NIOC Sailors of the Year.  Pictured below is Dick Life, retired Navy Captain and Denver Council Member re-enlisting one of our honorees.