NAVY LEAGUE NEWS
From acknowledging the hard work of members in the field and honoring the sea services’ best and
brightest, to commissioning a Coast Guard cutter and
electing a new president, Navy Leaguers attending the
National Convention in Tampa, Fla., had a long to-do
list that kept them very busy June 16-21.
Skip Witunski was formally elected national president
at the Board of Directors meeting on June 20, having
served as president-elect under outgoing National
President James H. Offutt for the last six months. As
such, Witunski presided over that evening’s reception
and dinner program, featuring William McMichael “Bill”
Shepherd, a Naval Academy graduate, former Navy
SEAL and NASA astronaut, who served as commander of
Expedition 1, the first crew aboard the International
Space Station. A recipient of the Congressional Space
Medal of Honor, Shepherd recounted his interaction with
his Russian counterparts and his time aboard the station
in a moving video.
Also at the dinner, Offutt received the Department
of the Navy’s Distinguished Public Service Award from
VADM Mark I. Fox, deputy commander, U.S. Central
Command, on behalf of Secretary of the Navy Ray
Mabus, for his support to the Navy and Marine Corps
team as Navy League national president.
The convention this year attracted several other
notable guest speakers each day, particularly for the popular Sea Services Panel on June 19, and included a trip to
Port Tampa Bay June 20 for the commissioning of the
13th U.S. Coast Guard Fast Response Cutter, Richard
Dixon, which is homeported Puerto Rico. Witunski also
chaired the Commissioning Committee, and Navy
Leaguers joined Coast Guard, state and local officials —
including keynote speaker ADM Paul F. Zukunft, Coast
Guard commandant — as well as friends and families of
crew members as the cutter’s sponsor, Virginia Dixon,
called on the crew to bring the ship to life.
Earlier in the week, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn
joined Witunski, who served as chairman of the Tampa
Council’s National Convention Committee, and Offutt
in greeting Navy Leaguers at the Welcome Aboard
reception on June 17 to kick off the event.
The business of the Navy League began early each day
with members breaking off into various committee meet-
ings, with some of the June 18 sessions featuring guest
speakers. Joining the Navy Affairs Committee meeting
was RDML James J. Malloy, deputy director of operations
at U.S. Central Command in Tampa. Col Curtis L.
Williamson III, assistant chief of staff for plans, G5, at
U.S. Marine Forces Central Command, addressed the
Marine Corps Affairs Committee, and Ellen Engleman
Conners, acting director, Governmental and Public
Affairs at U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington,
spoke at the Legislative Affairs Committee meeting.
Joining Engleman Conners at the Coast Guard Affairs
Committee meeting were RADM Karl L. Schultz, director
of operations at Southern Command in Doral, Fla., and
CAPT Richard E. Lorenzen, commanding officer, Coast
Guard Air Station Clearwater, Fla.
Witunski Takes Helm as President,
Dixon Commissioned at Convention
By AMY L. WITTMAN, Editor in Chief
WWW.SEAPOWERMAGAZINE.ORG 68 SEAPOWER / JULY/AUGUST 2015
New National President Skip Witunski, left, shares a laugh
with outgoing President James H. Offutt during the Navy
League National Convention’s closing dinner in Tampa,
Fla., June 20, after presenting Offutt with a bust of
Theodore Roosevelt for his service as president.