BY JIM KOHLER, OFFICE OF CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS AND PUBLIC AFFAIRS
NAVSUP FLEET LOGISTICS CENTER NORFOLK
Approximately 30 NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center (FLC) Norfolk Sailors volunteered their time to assist with setup and coordination of the 64th annual Norfolk North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Festival Parade April 29.
Formerly known as the Azalea Festival, the Norfolk NATO Festival is the longest continuously running festival in the Hampton Roads region, and the only one of its kind in the United States honoring the NATO Alliance and its 28 member nations.
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Approximately 30 NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Sailors volunteered their time to assist with set up and coordination of the 64th annual Norfolk NATO Festival Parade.
NAVSUP FLC Norfolk’s volunteer efforts were spearheaded by Logistics Specialist Senior Chief Gregory Bell. “I have been involved with this event for seven years now,” said Bell. “I started during my first tour at NAVSUP FLC Norfolk in 2011, and have developed an outstanding rapport with Visit Norfolk to be the single point of contact to recruit military members to assist with the parade every year.”
The NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Sailors were responsible for setting up chairs for the parade and escorting 2,500 retired veterans and senior citizens to their seats so they could watch the parade.
“Volunteering for the NATO Festival every year is such an honor,” said Bell. “It gives me a chance to acknowledge the brave veterans from all branches of service that paved the way for Sailors like me and to also pay my respects for the sacrifices they endured for our freedom. Most importantly, I enjoy listening to their war stories. It never gets old.”
NAVSUP FLC Norfolk Sailors who joined Bell April 29 echoed his feelings about volunteering to help with the festival. “My experience with the NATO Festival was so enriching, being able to give back to our local community here in Norfolk as well as the many veterans that attended the festival,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Stacy Pruitt. “It was an honor to be a part of this 64-year tradition of the NATO festival.”
Norfolk NATO Festival’s goals are to create new friendships, provide a basis for cultural exchange, and to recognize the military’s role in maintaining peace in the world, while pursuing new lines of trade between Norfolk and the world. The event is a favorite of area residents and tourists alike. The volunteers play a huge role in pulling off this event each year.
“For me, volunteering at NATO Festival was a chance to give back to the men and women that served before me,” said Logistics Specialist 2nd Class Zachary Shipman. “It was an honor and a privilege spending time with so many proud veterans who helped shape the military into what it is today.”