Making a Positive Impact

Jennifer, Brett (civilian), Cole and Madeleine Cass

Our naval bases and personnel — active duty, retired and civilian — have helped shape the region. We recognize some of them and their families with this collection of photos.

Writer: Carrie Lovejoy |Fall-Winter 2022 | Coverphoto: Jordan, Justin, Colonel Tamara Campbell, Jonathan and Captain Errol Campbell.

 

With its proximity to both Washington, D.C., and the tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay, Southern Maryland offers a near-perfect landscape to be hubs for the U.S. military. The region offers great benefits to the military, but since the 1940s the military has offered great benefits to the people of Southern Maryland.
Charles, Calvert and St. Mary’s counties all see economic, educational and recreational benefits that can be directly tied to the presence of the Patuxent River Naval Air Station in St. Mary’s County and Naval Support Facility Indian Head in Charles County.

Captains (ret.) Glen and Barbara Ives


 

Andra, Luc, Lexy and Angel (civilian) Perdomo

A SYMBIOTIC RELATIONSHIP
Supporting the U.S. Navy at Pax River has been the goal in St. Mary’s County since the base was first commissioned in 1943, and that support has gone both ways for decades.
Because of the Navy’s presence here, the county has grown exponentially in both its economic power and its population.
A 2018 presentation from the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development states that the base is responsible for more than 40,000 jobs, meaning $2.4 billion in wages. The base is situated on 12 miles of the coast of the Patuxent River in St. Mary’s County.
More than its large physical presence, however, the base offers a huge wealth of personal and financial pluses.
Barbara Ives of California is retired now but remains heavily involved in the relationship between the base and local educational institutions and nonprofits.
She works with the St. Mary’s County Department of Economic Development, St. Mary’s County Historical Society, Southern Maryland Navy Alliance and a number of nonprofits that connect people with organizations for the benefit of both.

CDR (ret.) Brian Reardon and daughter Elizabeth

Because of the work of people like her, young people in Southern Maryland are connected with potential mentors who work on base, giving them a leg up in a variety of ways as they further their educations.
For instance, one program called STEMing specifically works to support young women who are interested in careers in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM, fields.
“It’s wonderful for women, and we can get more women involved in science and math fields,” Ives says. There are more connections made between willing mentors from the base and the community, like judging science fairs and speaking in classrooms or clubs.

CDR Dean Farmer with family, Bonnie, DB, Mattie and Jack.

Some programs can also help students on an individual basis, like Tech Jobs Rule, which Ives said is a way that high school students can get acclimated to the world of careers.
“The technical schools offer great opportunities, but this gives them a chance to practice those skills,” she says. “They also need soft skills like how to dress, how to be more punctual, and they also get to do jobs like welding. It’s not just about classroom education but being able to do the work.”
This topic is a passion in the Ives household, as Ives’ husband, Glen, continues to work for the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance after having been the commanding officer at NAS Pax River from 2006 to 2008. His early experiences when he first came to St. Mary’s County have guided his direction since then, and his focus remains on education.

Mattias Huntt-Cereda, AMCS/E8 Thomas Huntt, Valentina Huntt-Cereda and Aurora Hunt-Cereda

When he first led a squadron of sailors at Pax River in 2001, he said those sailors were most concerned about the quality of education available to their families when they moved here.
“They were concerned about where their kids would go to school,” and that’s when Glen Ives and his colleagues saw that to recruit and retain good sailors, they would need to ensure that the community was a good one for their families. This is just a small piece of how the “county would improve to keep the base, and the base would improve to benefit the county,” he says.
And now, “business leaders, education leaders, everybody wants to be involved to make this the right place to grow their families.”
 

Elizabeth, Matthew, CMDR (ret.) Brian, Michelle and Timothy Reardon.

A STUDIED IMPACT
The installation in Indian Head was established in 1890 as “the Navy’s first established presence in Southern Maryland,” according to the base’s website (ndw.cnic.navy.mil/). Indian Head covers about 3,500 acres along the Potomac River and is the energetics center for the Department of Defense.
The 2012 Maryland Military Installation Economic Impact Study, commissioned by the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, states that the base employs more than 800 engineers and scientists, so “Indian Head contains the largest workforce of chemical engineers dedicated to energetics and (Explosives Ordnance Disposal) working within the Federal government.”

Captain (ret.) Craig Grubb, Ethan Cosgrove, Jaimie Grubb (civilian)and Andrew Cosgrove

At the time of the study, the base employed more than 2,000 workers in all.
Barbara Ives said the surrounding area has worked to create a good community for people doing business on the base, especially by providing the space for people to meet off-base. Getting clearance to actually get on base can be difficult, so places like the Velocity Center, operated by the College of Southern Maryland, allow a meeting space to be seamless with little effort for all parties.
“CSM has done a fine job of coordinating those efforts,” Barbara Ives says.
 

The Lemmon family. RADM John Lemmon, Brynn, McCoy, LT Dane Lemmon, Brady, and Julie

TRAINING AND MORE TRAINING
Even before Pax River was built, Calvert County saw the benefits of a military presence.
From 1942 to 1945, soldiers and sailors were trained at the Naval Amphibious Training Base in Solomons, according to The Historical Marker Database (HMdb.org). That training would not be the end, though, as the establishment of Pax River directly across the Patuxent means Calvert County is packed with residents who work on or near the base.

Riley, Mandy, and Brandon (civilian) Rider

The amphibious training might not be as important these days, but skills are skills and they can all lead to better workforce development – the biggest benefit of all of the programs available in Southern Maryland because of the military’s presence.
“We want students to learn here and stay here,” Barbara Ives says. This “grow your own” mindset has led to an incredible number of programs, including one in which a student can start at CSM after high school, attend there for two years, and then move on to the University of Maryland to get a bachelor’s degree in mechanical or electrical engineering – all without having to leave Southern Maryland.
The students attend classes at the University System of Maryland at Southern Maryland – previously known as the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center — in St. Mary’s County and work for NAVAIR, and the Navy covers their UMD tuition. “This a great deal for folks in Southern Maryland,” she says. •