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Happy 248th Birthday, U.S. Navy! NAMRU Dayton celebrates third annual event

07 November 2023

From Zachary Wilson

DAYTON, Ohio – Nearly 90 members of the Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) Dayton, friends, family members, partners, sister service members, veteran and retirees rang in the 248th birthday of the U.S. Navy during the Command-hosted third annual Dayton Area Navy Ball Oct. 13 in Dayton, Ohio.The event – which started at the suggestion of NAMRU
DAYTON, Ohio – Nearly 90 members of the Naval Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) Dayton, friends, family members, partners, sister service members, veteran and retirees rang in the 248th birthday of the U.S. Navy during the Command-hosted third annual Dayton Area Navy Ball Oct. 13 in Dayton, Ohio.

The event – which started at the suggestion of NAMRU Dayton’s Commanding Officer, U.S. Navy Capt. Walter W. Dalitsch III – grew from an intimate event held during a lull in the COVID-19 pandemic restriction to this year’s larger event.
“I was very pleased this year to see the attendees peak at nearly 90, from a start a couple years ago of just shy of 35,” Dalitsch said. “It was particularly gratifying to have so many veterans and retirees in attendance, as it means a lot to them to stay connected to Navy heritage.”



In a message to the fleet by the acting chief of Naval Operations, this year’s theme, “248 years of Power, Presence, and Protection,” was selected to “highlight the U.S. Navy's historical and long-standing commitment to being forward deployed, highly trained and dedicated to defending American interests at sea, land or sky,” said Admiral Lisa M. Franchetti, acting CNO. “Beginning with the establishment of our Navy in 1775 and continuing to our current modern fleet, our Navy has stood the watch. We continue to deploy forward as our nation's vital maritime maneuver force, persistent, versatile, and capable of winning any fight, and ready for the challenges of an unpredictable future.”

U.S. Navy Lt. Xan Kaplan was the primary coordinator for this year and last year’s Ball. She was tasked with organizing planning and executing efforts for the last two events.

“The Dayton Area Navy Ball has grown bigger every year,” she said. “From a small gathering made up of members of our own command, to a nearly-100 guest event open to the community, it has been incredible to see the way the Wardroom comes together to celebrate 248 years of Naval tradition. The unique challenges of holding such an event in a town with limited Navy presence makes it even more rewarding when we are able to see all our efforts come to fruition.”

The NAMRU Dayton-hosted event was highlighted by the participation of guest speaker Dr. Jonathan Clark, a 26-year active-duty Navy veteran with extensive experience as a naval flight officer, naval flight surgeon, U.S. Navy diver, U.S. Army parachutist and special forces military freefall specialist. Additionally, he worked for the National Air and Space Administration (NASA) as a Space Shuttle Crew surgeon, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and commercial experience with Virgin Galactic, SpaceX, and Space Perspective. Dr. Clark provided plenty of sea stories prior to and after dinner and spoke of the importance of collaboration in future scientific endeavors.

The Command’s Navy Ball previously featured guest speakers representing the Fleet and Naval medical research communities respectively. Dalitsch determined that Dr. Clark was the choice this year based on the unique blend of operational and research experience that he possessed in his distinguished career as had the previous speakers, U.S. Navy Capt. (ret) Rick Vanden Heuvel (2021) and Dr. Ben Lawson (2022).

“A good guest speaker will be able to speak to the whole audience,” Dalitsch said. “The guest speakers I selected have had ties either as end-users or as scientists in Navy research and development, particularly in the human performance realm of aviation, and the extreme and toxic environments we operate in.”

This year’s event will be the last for Dalitsch as CO. He hopes the tradition and planning put in place during the past three years will serve as benchmark for future events.

“I hope that it will continue, but that will be up to the next CO,” he said. “It’s a good chance for our Junior Officers to experience and celebrate our long maritime heritage, and equally important for them to mingle with some of the old salts and hear their sea stories. I know several veterans told me at the Ball that they are glad to see the initiative, and hope that it continues!”

Kaplan noted that the planning for next year has already begun.

“I am confident that next year’s event will be even better,” she said. “We are constantly learning and improving, adding new things each year.”

Additionally, the Command is thankful for the attendance of local U.S. Air Force leaders, as well as Navy veterans and retirees, and the dedicated support of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base partners, particularly the Air Force Band of Flight, and the U.S. Marine Corps Color Guard.

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