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The 2014 Navy Birthday Ball is many months away, but the Naval Support Activity South Potomac Navy Ball Committee is working hard to raise funds that will enhance the event and help make it more affordable for junior service members. The first fundraising efforts are donut sales held every other Thursday at sites across Naval Support Facility Dahlgren. The next donut sales will be held April 10 and 24.

This year’s ball is being organized by members of the Joint Warfare Analysis Center, who want attendees to be as diverse as the members of their organization. Service members from all branches assigned to Naval Support Facilities Dahlgren and Indian Head, as well as civilian employees assigned to NSASP-hosted commands and activities, are encouraged to attend. The ball celebrating the Navy’s 239th birthday will be held at the Fredericksburg Hospitality House and Conference Center on Oct. 10, 2014.

Cmdr. Pete Corrao, assigned to JWAC, is the chairman of the NSASP Navy Ball Committee this year. “Naval Support Activity South Potomac encompasses more than just Navy people,” he said. “We’ve got our Sailors, but JWAC is joint, so we’ll have service members from all branches. Many of our volunteers and coworkers are civilians, so we want them to come as well. We also want all the civilians who support activities at South Potomac there, along with our retirees. It’s a birthday party at the end of the day and we want to invite everybody.”

The tentative theme of this year’s ball is the Battle of Leyte Gulf, which pitted the Imperial Japanese Navy against the U.S. and Australian navies Oct. 23-26, 1944. It is widely considered by historians to be the largest naval battle in history and included all aspects of naval combat-aircraft, surface ships and submarines. This year will mark the 70th anniversary of the battle. “There is a lot of history there,” said Corrao. “It is a major milestone.”

All of the nations that participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf are longtime allies today; members of both the Australian Royal Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force are hosted at NSF Dahlgren. “The onetime adversaries in [the Pacific]-the Japanese, the U.S., the Australians and the Philippines are all working together now to keep the Pacific safe,” said Corrao, who is currently searching for a guest speaker with knowledge of both naval history in the Pacific and current events to address the theme.

Corrao hopes that members of those nations’ armed services based at NSASP will attend. “I’d like them to come to the ball,” he said. “I think the theme is very relevant.”

Of course, any successful Navy Birthday Ball requires much organization and fund raising. “We’re always in the market for volunteers,” said Corrao. “We want to offset the cost of the ball to make it more affordable, particularly to the junior Sailors. A lot of junior Sailors and a lot of senior Sailors never make it to a ball. It’s one of the seminal events we do in the Navy. It’s a reflection of a great naval tradition. We want people to get excited about the history and heritage of the Navy.”

The NSASP Navy Ball Committee meets at 10 a.m. every other Friday at Cannonball Lanes, with the next meeting scheduled for April 4. Readers who wish to volunteer or support the NSASP Navy Ball are encouraged to attend. For more information, visit www.navyball.org or email pcorrao@jwac.mil.