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Mayor Steven Gama, (far right) helps the Ben Moreell Battalion of the US Naval Sea Cadets clean up Ormond Beach. (Photo by Chris Frost)
Friday, August 13, 2021

By Chris Frost

Tri County Sentry

Port Hueneme-- The kids got into the act at Ormond Beach, Saturday, August 7, as the Ben Moreell Battalion of the US Naval Sea Cadets took to the beach and kept the cleanup project moving forward.

 

The Sea Cadets' mission builds leaders' character by instilling the highest ideals of honor, respect, commitment, and service.

 

The group joined Mayor Steven Gama, who has been making a difference at the beach for years. Gama said the beach is making progress and looks better, and he is happy to take the kids out and teach them how important it is to take care of the city's natural resources.

 

Ben Moreell and Nicholas H Anderson Commanding Officer Gabriel Gonzalez said the program consists of kids ages 10-17.

 

"We have a few 18-year-olds, but usually, after they graduate, they have a choice of continuing to stay in the program as adult staff," he said. "Some of them decide to go to college or join the military."

 

He said the group gets involved with service programs at times, and later in August, the Sea Cadets plan to help at the Hueneme Beach Festival.

 

"It made sense for us to come over about two weeks before the festival and help clean up," Gonzalez said. "In two weeks, then people can see how clean the beach is."

 

About 20-30 kids signed up for the cleanup, along with the grown-ups.

 

"We have some of the parents help out," he said. "Some of the parents have no type of military experience, but they have some type of other skills. One of our parents was a nurse, so that helps out. Especially when we have kids who qualify to be corpsmen, and she can supervise them and teach them stuff they didn't learn at school. We also have other parents who are law enforcement, so when we do events with the police department. When the parents get involved, the kids get to see the K9 units and the SWAT team. Sometimes they get to see the EODs (Explosive Ordinance Disposal) blow up stuff.  It goes back to these kids having options of what they can do later on."

 

Gonzalez is proud of his cadets.

 

"It shows what our future is looking like," he said. "I have family members, and all their kids want to do is sit at home, watch television and play video games. I'm proud of these kids because they are showing there is more to do. We're not forcing them, and they are coming here to help out their community and show they're better than their classmates and peers." 

 

Financial Officer Jonnie Lisman added that the Navy League sponsors the group, and they pick a Sea Cadet who's been outstanding for the entire year.

 

"The Navy League will come to give them a check and a certificate for being an outstanding cadet," she said. "I've been in the program since 2013 because my son was involved. When he graduated, he got out, and I got in. We're also looking for adult volunteers."

 

Chief Caden Casas made sure all the kids were organized and ready to clean the beach.

 

"It's important to get out here and help the mayor of Port Hueneme keep the place nice," he said. "Some days I tell the Petty Officers what to do, and other days I mentor the Sea Cadets and Petty Officers. On other days, I'm training people to take on new roles and positions and offer them guidance for the future." 

 

He initially joined the Sea Cadets to learn more about the military because he comes from a military family. 

 

"I kept going with it because it's teaching me good skills, and I am making great friends all over the country," Casas said. "I've stuck with it for seven years and five months."

 

He plans to become a mechanical engineer.

 

"A common misconception is that this is only military-oriented," he said.  "I've had experience with robotics and applied leadership, and it works. It's great to have these skills."