An update from the Military Affairs Committee

Key West Military Affairs Committee’s (MAC) mission is to foster and strengthen the relationship between the military and civilians in our community.

Message from MAC president Ron Demes:

As we begin the hustle of the holiday season that is amplified in Key West with the significant increase in tourists and associated traffic, it’s good to keep focused on all we should be thankful for. Yes, the weather is a wonderful thing but there is so much more. Key West is known for its support of our military forces and all they do to protect our freedoms through their service to our nation, as well as contributions to our community through their local engagement. Please think about what you can do for our active-duty military, their families and veterans who could use our support this holiday season. Try reaching out to make even one day better for someone. 

I was pleased to be on the streets of Key West on Veterans Day weekend, hearing so many people thanking our veterans and active-duty military for their service. It costs nothing to do that, but surely makes a difference in someone’s day. Keep up the good work, Key West.

What happened at the November MAC meeting? 

Lynne Tejeda, Keys Energy Services (KEYS) general manager and CEO, gave a comprehensive update on KEYS’ power infrastructure, operations relating to military readiness, ongoing and planned system improvements and challenges to meeting future requirements. This was an opportunity for senior military officials to learn what our power utility was all about, starting with the power that is generated both in the Keys and on the mainland, as well as the high-voltage transmission system that brings power down U.S. 1 and the stepped-down distribution network that brings power from the transmission line into local neighborhoods and businesses. 

The military is the power company’s largest customer, generating over $7 million in revenue in fiscal 2022 for Keys Energy. Tejeda said summertime weather is the single greatest contributor to usage, due to air conditioning. 

She also explained the 111-megawatt on-island (local power) generation capacity that is on Stock Island. The plant includes seven well-maintained generation units that cost considerably more to run than it does to buy power from the mainland. Tejeda’s presentation was appreciated and we are fortunate to have her at the helm of this critical utility.

Sea Cadet Support 

The Military Affairs Committee is honored to have received a $100,000 grant for the third year from the Edward B. and Joan T. Knight Foundation to support the Florida Keys Division U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps. Edward Knight was a charter member of MAC in 1966 and remained an avid supporter and member his entire life. His legacy lives on through the foundation he established. The funding for the Sea Cadets has changed lives in ways that will pay dividends for the cadets in the program, as well as the positive effects cadets make in society going forth. We encourage anyone with something to offer in the way of supporting the Sea Cadet program to reach out to MAC or Navy League Key West Council. Information about the program is at floridakeysseacadets.com.

Super Star Special Recognition

As my year as president draws to a close, I wanted to recognize a true Superstar I stumbled across last year at Sector Key West. That exceptional military member is Yeoman 3rd Class Jonathon Rivera Vergara, who is only the third military service member in my 40 years of working closely with the military to stand out above the thousands of enlisted service members I have met. His level of professionalism, military bearing, subject matter knowledge and eagerness to help compelled me to go to the Sector Commander’s office and comment on the unparalleled experience I just had. I made a special presentation at MAC to let him know he makes a positive difference in people’s lives just by coming to work each day. 

Just so you know, the first of three was a 1st Class Petty Officer on the Submarine (SSBN 741) USS Maine circa 1990 and the second was JIATFS PO1 Nicole Welfel who gave a Leadership Monroe County briefing in 1988 when a colonel missed a flight to Key West to give the briefing. 

I recommend we all take the time to recognize the superstars among us when you have the pleasure of meeting one.

CAPTIONS

AWARD PRESENTATIONS

Each month Key West MAC recognizes the best of the best personnel serving in local military activities.

Super Star Special Recognition

From left, Deputy Commander USCG Sector Key West CDR Stan Fields and Sector Commander CAPT Jason Ingram present YN3 Jonathan Rivera Vergara with the MAC superstar mug and special Semper Paratus challenge coin from MAC president Ron Demes.  CONTRIBUTED

NAS KW awardee

From left,  Naval Air Station Key West Command Master Chief Joshua Joiner presents AWS2 Brett Medford with the Junior Sailor of the Quarter award with MAC president Ron Demes and Commanding Officer CAPT Beth Regoli. CONTRIBUTED

VFC-111 “Sundowners” Squadron Awardee  

From left, VFC-111 Squadron Command Senior Chief Dennis Go presents PS1 Brittany Krause with the Sailor of the Quarter award with MAC president Ron Demes, Commanding Officer CDR Matt “Sulle” Gibson and Executive Officer CDR Joseph “Ninja” Robinson. CONTRIBUTE

US Coast Guard Cutter Thetis Key West Awardee

From left, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Thetis Commanding Officer CDR Gavin Garcia presents GM3 Noah Krause with the USCGC Thetis Sailor of the Quarter award with MAC president Ron Demes while onboard the cutter with County Mayor Pro Tem Jim Scholl. CONTRIBUTED

Fleet Readiness Center Southeast Key West Awardees

From left, Fleet Readiness Center Officer in Charge LCDR Jonathan Patnaude presents the Sailor of the Quarter award to ABH2 Thaddeus Majerek III and Blue Jacket of the Quarter to AMAN Nathan Smith with MAC president Ron Demes. CONTRIBUTED

Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Det. Key West Awardee    

From left, Navy Munitions Command (NMC) Chief Somkhoun presents AO2 Annastasia Shellito with the Sailor of the Quarter award with MAC president Ron Demes and NMC Officer in Charge CWO Wilbur “Gunner” Lewis. CONTRIBUTED

Joint Interagency Task Force South (JIATFS) Awardees

From left, Joint Interagency Task Force South Senior Chief Daniel Baraz presents the Junior Enlisted Person of the Quarter CTR3 award to William Query and the Senior Enlisted Person of the Quarter to SSgt Kayla Sturm with MAC president Ron Demes. CONTRIBUTED

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