USA: Naval Base Kitsap Honors Individual Augmentees

Honors Individual Augmentees

More than 200 active duty Sailors and families members attended a Heroes’ Welcome Event to honor past, present, and future Individual Augmentees (IA) from commands in the Pacific Northwest at the Jackson Park Community Center, Nov. 15.

The Naval Base Kitsap Fleet and Family Support Center sponsored the event in honor of the sacrifices made by all IAs and their family members.

“I think this Heroes’ Welcome is one of the most important and memorable events we do here at Naval Base Kitsap every year,” said Capt. Pete Dawson, commanding officer of Naval Base Kitsap.

In 2012, 175 Sailors from Naval Base Kitsap and its tenant commands served IA billets in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Bahrain, and Guantanamo Bay.

“I think all the Sailors and Marines deployed from Naval Base Kitsap and tenant commands are the best we have,” said Dawson. “We send them from the naval base, overseas as individual augmentees, we are proud of them when they go and we are equally proud of them when they return home.”

More than 100 Sailors and their attending family members were recognized at the ceremony, including a military dog and his handler. Each IA was given a hand-made, heirloom-quality quilt donated from the Quilts of Valor and American Heroes Quilts.

“[This event] means honoring our heroes, our service members who are risking it all for our freedoms,” said Yeoman 3rd Class Allie Brazas. “They don’t get enough of it.”

During the ceremony, vignettes played honoring Sailors who served as an IA. One of the vignettes was to honor Master-at-Arms 2nd Sean Brazas, who died May 30 while conducting combat operations in Panjwa’l, Afghanistan. Sean’s wife, Yeoman 3rd Class Allie Brazas, and his 17-month old daughter were in attendance at the event.

“My husband, unfortunately, didn’t get to get welcomed back like everyone else normally does, but he rests with all the other heroes and plenty of others who gave their lives for our country,” said Brazas. “This event was very special to me. It was special to see all these returning heroes and it was special to honor my husband and his sacrifice.”

Two members of the Navy Hospital Bremerton color guard paraded the colors and Musician 3rd Class Stephanie Brainard, assigned to Navy Band Northwest, sang the national anthem.

Following the ceremony, members of NBK FFSC provided information on support systems and tools available to help Sailors who have returned from an IA deployment and their family members. Part of the goal of FFSC is to assist IAs and their families throughout the whole process of an IA deployment.

“At NBK we’ve being working hard towards this event the last couple of months,” said Dawson. We have no requirement, no regulation that requires us to do a Heroes’ Welcome, but it’s the right thing to do.”

Naval Today Staff, November 19, 2012; Image: US Navy