David Mendez

Newly commissioned unit presented at Vets Park

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The United States Naval Sea Cadets of the newly commissioned South Bay Division bear awards naming them “plank owners” at the Redondo Beach Elks Lodge. Photo by David Mendez

by David Mendez

The Saturday morning ceremony to commission a new division of the United States Naval Sea Cadets went swimmingly at Redondo Beach’s Veterans Park.

The South Bay Division of the USNSC had been in the works for more than eight months prior to the Oct. 28 ceremony, according to LTJG Doug Irvine, who leads the unit.

“For [a ceremony that lasted] one hour or less, it seems like we’ve been preparing for a long time,” Irvine said. “It’s been a full-time job getting the unit together.”

The Navy Sea Cadets is the Army’s JROTC. It offers an introduction to military regimentation with no service obligation. However, as with JROTC, cadets may be eligible for advanced pay grades should they enlist later in life.

Each of the founding cadets and officers of South Bay Division was named a “plank owner,” issued certificates, and then awarded actual planks from the USS Iowa. The planks were polished, lacquered and affixed with plates bearing their names.

“Commissioning ceremonies are the start of something new, wonderful and fresh. Having the opportunity to build, grow and form a new unit is an honor for me and the Marine Exchange,” said Kip Louttit, the Executive Director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California, where the South Bay Division drills. “I bet at the one-year anniversary ceremony, there will be stories about wonderful accomplishments.”

Mayor Bill Brand was invited to speak at the ceremony by instructor Amber Cascadden, whom he met at Memorial Day services earlier this year.

“I’m so impressed with these young cadets, going through everything they’re going through, trying to build character and talking about all of these important human traits,” Brand said. “It’s very inspiring, seeing this good, fresh start. It made me reflect on what integrity and character building really is all about.”

There were a few hitches — one cadet on the color guard appeared to have fallen ill, while another passed out, locking her knees while standing at attention — but the ceremony was not the worse for the stumbles.

“We’ll be working on that next week,” Irvine said.

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