Navy Begins Honorary Members Program With Fitzwater, McCurry
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 24, 2000 Former White House Press Secretaries Marlin Fitzwater and Mike McCurry became honorary members of the destroyers USS Arleigh Burke and USS Marc Mitscher respectively during a Pentagon ceremony.
Fitzwater, who worked for Presidents Reagan and Bush, and McCurry, for President Clinton, were both clearly delighted with the honor.
"I'm really honored to receive this opportunity," Fitzwater said. "I've had many positive experiences with the Navy. In all the White House years the number of times we turned to the Navy and Marines, they always responded in marvelous fashion."
McCurry thanked Navy Secretary Richard Danzig for his leadership to "connect the American people to our sailors and Marines. It is a way to remember all our men and women in uniform and the fine job that they do," he said. "I'm looking to have some fun, too. The commander and I have talked about the ship's trip schedule and where I might be able to join them."
McCurry turned to Cmdr. Frank Pandolfe, captain of the Mitscher and said, "If you will teach me how to navigate straight and true, I'll teach you how to spin."
Danzig said the Navy and Marine Corps are about relationships. At its heart, he said, military service is about the personal relationships crewmates develop and their trust in each other.
"Another set of relationships that concerns us is between us as members of the military and civilian society as a whole," Danzig said. "As a relatively declining number of Americans have experience in military service, one problem we have is how to we relay a sense of military experience to the public."
This was the beginning of the Navy's Honorary Members Program. Distinguished civilians become honorary members of the crew or the unit. "They can carry the message of the ship or unit back to America," Danzig said.
It works two ways. The honorary members visit the ship or unit and speak with the crew.
Other notables to be initiated soon are author Maya Angelou, San Diego Padres owner Larry Luchino, soccer star Mia Hamm, futurist Peter Schwartz, financier Dennis Bovin, football star Chad Hennings, and retired Marine Corps colonel and television star Ed McMahon.