RALEIGH, NC. — Sailors from Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Raleigh produced a surprise 100th birthday video for Warren Shepard, a U.S. Navy veteran who served aboard the Canyon-class destroyer escort USS Riddle (DE 185) during World War II.
In November, Cmdr. Roger “Lee” Huffstetler, commanding officer of NOSC Raleigh, received a request from the local office of congress to honor Shepard for his 100th birthday. The original request was for Sailors to celebrate the occasion near Shepard’s home in Wilson, North Carolina.
Keeping in line with COVID-19 safety precautions, Huffstetler made the decision that the in-person event was not possible. “I wanted to do something to honor him, but I have to make sure we’re keeping everyone safe,” Huffstetler said.
Working with the NOSC’s executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Allison Moon, and senior enlisted leader, Senior Chief Petty Officer Donald Bailey, the team decided to make a personal video message instead to be recorded following their annual dress blue uniform inspection and morning muster, Dec. 9.
In the video just for Shepard, his family and friends, Huffstetler called the NOSC crew to formation, rendered a salute to Shepard and his years of service and then wished him a happy birthday. Afterward, each Sailor took time to recite a lines from a short script written by Moon.
“We developed the video concept as a contingency plan as COVID-19 cases really started to rise locally and we weren't sure if the birthday celebration was going to happen — or if we would be able to attend if it did,” said Moon. “We were especially glad to have the video done in time for Mr. Shepard to watch it on his big day, since his celebration ended up being postponed due to COVID.”
Bailey expressed the mutual thoughts of the NOSC team. “This is important, and it’s rewarding,” he said. “I wish we could do it for every one of our veterans.”
The finished video was delivered to Shepard’s niece, Susie Boartfield, who showed it to her uncle on his birthday. Boartfield said, “Thank you so much for your special efforts on behalf of my uncle.”
The mission of the Navy Reserve is to provide strategic depth and deliver operational capabilities to the Navy and Marine Corps team and Joint forces, in times of peace or war. Navy Reserve commands like NOSC Raleigh serve as readiness generation centers for Navy Reserve Sailors, ensuring mobilization and warfighting readiness for today’s Great Power Competition.