COURTESY OF JAY LOTT
In the back, from the left, Marc Aronsohn, Wal-Mart representative and recognition
sponsor; Walt Mueller, BAE Systems representative and event sponsor; and Dave
Grundies, San Diego Council president, stand with the 16 2011 Sea Service Spouse
of the Year finalists Dec. 8 at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina.
“The entries we received were
overwhelming. Many of our spouses
serve multiple organizations, are
earning bachelor’s and master’s
degrees, while some completed
marathons and Mud Runs. It’s
absolutely amazing,” Kimberly
Miller, vice president of administration for San Diego Council, said in a
report on the event by the 13th MEU.
Each Spouse of the Year nominee received a red rose and a commissary gift card. The three winners received a large gift basket,
presented by recognition sponsor
Wal-Mart, and a check for $1,000
from title sponsor BAE Systems.
Tampa Council Member
Earns French Medal
Tampa Council member Nelson
Spoto, who fought alongside French
forces in World War II, was presented with the Knight in the National
Order of the Legion of Honor
insignia during a Dec. 8 ceremony at
MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
Spoto was one of 34 U.S. World War
II veterans honored at MacDill, and
in a Dec. 7 ceremony in Boynton
Beach that marked the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor,
with the highest French award given
to military or civilian recipients.
The award was bestowed by the
French Consulate. At MacDill,
Consul General Gael de Maisonneuve, Rear Adm. Patrick Martin,
chief of the French detachment at
U.S. Central Command (
CENTCOM), French Navy Capt. Philippe Petitdidier and French
Army Col. Philippe Derathé
decorated 14 veterans with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre National de la
Legion d’Honneur. Also in attendance were Maj. Gen. Karl Horst,
chief of staff of CENTCOM; Maj.
Gen. Bill Gerety, commander of
the 80th Training Command; Ad -
jutant Paul Diehl, representing
American Legion Commander Bill
Hamblin; and Jean-Charles Faust,
honorary consul of France in Tampa. In Boynton Beach, de Maisonneuve awarded the insignias to 20
Spoto, who is 86, received a
double-cornered star enameled in
white that hung from a red ribbon,
according to a report in the Tampa
Council’s Deck Log newsletter.
Each honoree also received a bottle
of fine French wine.
De Maisonneuve thanked the
veterans for their service.
“You are part of the greatest generation to rid the world of the
Tampa Council member Nelson Spoto,
right, prepares to receive the Knight in
the National Order of the Legion of
Honor medal from Col. Philippe Derathé and French Detachment assistant Marie De Oliveira during a ceremony Dec. 8 at MacDill Air Force Base.
tyranny of Nazism,” he said to the
veterans and about 140 spectators.
“This is very, very moving for me.”
Fresh out of Hillsborough High
School, Spoto served aboard USS
Raven, a minesweeper that cleared
the way for the D-Day invasion of
France in June 1944. He admitted
to being awed by the sheer size of
the invasion force.
“There were 5,000 ships, and the
panorama of all those ships was
amazing,” Spoto said. “You felt like
the whole world was there. What
wasn’t pretty was when the shooting
started; it was not very comfortable
knowing you were in a minefield and
your job was to sweep for mines.”
North Dakota Hosts
The newly formed North Dakota
Council hosted the commanding
officer of the under-construction
Virginia-class attack submarine
North Dakota (SSN-784) during its
first quarter meeting Jan. 11 at the
Kelly Inn in Bismarck. Cmdr. Doug
Gordon and his wife, Christine,
were in the area for two days of get-
acquainted events, and joined the
council for the dinner meeting, dur-
ing which Gordon spoke.