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Thursday, August 22, 2019

Our "Telling the Navy League Story" series takes a look at what makes our members so passionate to volunteer their time and support the sea services. 

Name: Dave Reilly
Navy League Council: Camden-Kings Bay Council
Council Location: Saint Marys, Georgia
Years a Member: 21 years

What’s your personal connection to the sea services before you became a Navy League member?

I was in the Navy for 38 years.

How did you learn about the Navy League, and how did you end up joining?

The first time I heard about the Navy League was when I was on the Sam Houston. It was probably 1966, I think. We were coming into Fort Lauderdale and they hosted the ship. They had a ball game and I played and drank and had a lot of fun and [so I] thought about Navy League. 

My final job was commanding officer of SWFLANT [Strategic Weapons Facility, Atlantic] and got to know the Camden-Kings Bay Council pretty well, and when the time came for me to retire and choose what organizations I was going to join, Navy League was one of them I wanted to join. So, I joined. Became a life member right away too, by the way.

Can you tell me about a time or event you recall where you felt like your work as a volunteer made a real difference?

Yeah. I mean, as a volunteer in the Navy League it was probably at the council level where I became council president and we did quite a few things with the local Navy base and with the Sea Cadets and things like that. But one of the major things that we did was in the Indy [Indianapolis 500] each year in May. We recognized all of the Sailors, Marines and Coast Guard men of the year. Although we didn't have Coast Guard, it was Marines and Sailors then. We do now have them down there, and recognizing what the young kids were doing and things like that really made it special.

Our relationship [with the sea services] in Camden-Kings Bay Council is really superb. The base for a long time even let Navy Leaguers come on. But then of course [with] 9/11 that changed, and we had to tighten up a little bit on security. 

How have you personally been affected by your work through the Navy League?

It's made me pretty busy here over the last few years. … But they've been rewarding, especially I think the Maritime Policy Committee has been sort of the gem for me, because they really developed the policy that we use to educate the congressional and the civilian population, much like we were founded to do by Teddy Roosevelt back in 1902. So, I think that's special.

In your mind, why should someone who's not a member join the Navy League?

We needed sea services, all four of them: the Marines, Navy, the Coast Guard and the Merchant Marine. And our nation [to] remain strong, has to have a strong sea service. And the three missions of the Navy League really lend itself well. We educate, we support the sea service personnel's family while they're out there at sea, and we help with the youth and help them to learn a little discipline. What could be more rewarding?