02-13-2014 01:43 PM
Though it was officially formed on March 3, 1915, as a result of congressional legislation and the impending threat of world war, the history of the Navy Reserve goes back much further.
Once known as “citizen sailors,” reservists heavily supplemented the Continental Navy, setting out to sea in the name of freedom and liberty. On June 12, 1775, in what is cited as the first naval battle of the American Revolution, civilian revolutionists aboard merchant ships engaged and overtook an armed British vessel. Their actions reflect the Navy Reserve’s motto, “Ready now. Anytime, anywhere.”
This hallmark of patriotism has been carried on through every conflict up to the present day.
Notably during the Civil War, six naval volunteers were awarded the military’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, for their involvement in the sinking of the Confederate CSS Albemarle. Reservists again answered the call of duty during World War I, when they were used in their first official capacity to seek and thwart the infamous German U-boats.
World War II established, with no room for doubt, the irreplaceable value of the Navy’s reserve component. At the height of the war, the Navy grew to a force of nearly 3.4 million, and the majority of those sailors were reservists.
According to the Navy’s website, these reservists included five future U.S. presidents: John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush.
In addition to that impressive list of veterans, a very young John Glenn also served in the Navy Reserve. He, of course, went on to become the first man to orbit the Earth. He later served 25 years as a U.S. senator and was recently honored with the christening of the USNS John Glenn.
As storied as the history may be, the modern accomplishments of the Navy Reserve are no less impressive. After the Sept. 11 attacks, the roles of reservists from all branches expanded to meet the new threats of terrorism. Navy reservists were activated and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, fulfilling their mission to “deliver strategic depth and operational capability to the Navy, Marine Corps and Joint Forces.”
Today, at more than 65,000 strong, reservists make up about 20 percent of the total naval force, according to the Navy Reserve. They operate in an ever-widening range of specialties, both domestically and abroad, in the support and defense of our great nation. As they look to the future, the mission of the reserves is built upon the foundation of the Chief of Naval Operations’ three tenets: warfighting first, operate forward and be ready.
The reserves are an integral part of the Navy’s overall aim to be “A Global Force For Good,” serving not only in combat but also in humanitarian and disaster relief efforts around the world.
It is with great respect and admiration that USAA joins the celebration of the U.S. Navy Reserve’s 99th anniversary.
No Department of Defense or government agency endorsement.
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