Cmdr. Elvis Mikel, executive officer for Naval Support Activity South Potomac (NSASP), delighted local senior citizens Sept. 11 when he visited the Morning Side House in Waldorf, Md., to talk about his career in the military.
The group of senior citizens included several veterans representing every service branch and nearly every conflict since World War II. For other senior citizens who attended, Mikel's presentation evoked memories of time spent as a military spouse.
Mikel began with a description of some of the many military activities hosted at Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren and NSF Indian Head. "We're the host activity, so we're kind of like the mayor of Navy town," he said. "We're in charge of fire, security, emergency management, environmental compliance, occupational health and safety. We also do utilities."
Mikel also described how military equipment has evolved since past wars. "In the past, they'd put a gun on the deck and have a Sailor shoot it," he said. "Now, we have systems of systems. You have a gun, you have a radar, you have a fire control system. It's all tied together in a computer network."
The seniors were clearly impressed with the day-to-day activities hosted by NSASP. "Do you ever sleep?" asked one woman.
"I try to sleep," said a smiling Mikel. "I work that into when I eat, when I study, when I do my job and when I see my kids. So, two to three hours a day."
After describing the command duties of NSASP and other commands at Dahlgren and Indian Head, Mikel told the group about his life in the Navy. Members of the audience, which included several Navy veterans, peppered him with questions and compared military life today to the military life of yesteryear.
Many members of the group professed fond memories of Hawaii, where Mikel once served. One elderly gentleman, who was very obviously a young-at-heart Sailor, reminisced about "hula girls" during his time in Hawaii and treated the audience to a quick rendition of the hula dance from his chair.
The questions put forward to Mikel by the seniors were various: How long has he served? Where is he from? How did he meet his wife? Does he like living in the Charles County?
"We're very happy to be here," said Mikel. "My wife loves living in the area. My kids love it. We really enjoy being part of the community."
Mikel thanked the many veterans in the audience for their own service and credited enlisted leaders for making him the officer he is today. The former enlisted men in the group seemed to appreciate the compliment and sat up a little straighter. For more than an hour, Mikel entertained the seniors and answered a lively string of questions.
Regina Cunninham, director of life enrichment at Morningside House, appreciated the effect the visit had on residents.
"The residents really enjoyed it," she said. "This is the first time we've done anything like this and they were excited all week for this."
Mikel's presentation came after an earlier presentation by an Airman. Morningside House requested the attendance of military personnel as a way to honor both service members and their residents on Sept. 11.
"They are truly overwhelmed," said Cunningham of her residents. "It was a one-on-one thing; instead of seeing something on TV, they had someone to talk to them in-person.
"To hear about things going on in the world directly from someone who is serving, they are really, really excited. It is a special thing for their hearts."
Cunningham thanked Mikel for stopping by and sharing his life with residents. "Commander Mikel did an awesome job," she said. "Many residents can relate to what he's done and that's what made it exciting for them."