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PHOTO CAPTION:  The Liberty Bells, the official show troupe for the USO, performs a medley of classic hits from the 1940s during the event sponsored by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance to commemorate the signing of a community covenant. U.S. Navy photos by Gary Wagner

May 14, 2013
By Gary Wagner
Naval Support Activity South Potomac
Public Affairs

Virginia state and local government officials, along with the commanders for three area military installations, joined together Saturday, May 4, to sign a "community covenant" as a pledge of support for the bases and the active-duty, retired and reserve armed forces members and families that reside in the region.

Sponsored jointly by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce (FRCC) and the Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance, the event was held at Corporate Center Dr. in Fredericksburg's Central Park shopping complex. Formatted as an outdoor festival, it featured military displays and information booths for community groups and businesses, refreshments and giveaways. Virginia's DMV 2Go mobile van was available for service, and USO Metro Washington's traveling bus was on hand.

Highlights of the event included a precision drill team performance by the Navy Ceremonial Guard, and music provided by the Quantico Marine Corps Band's brass quintet. The "Liberty Bells," the official chartered USO show troupe from New York City, delighted attendees with a rousing concert featuring popular music and patriotic medleys.

A brief formal ceremony capped the event, during which community and military leaders were invited to sign the community covenant. A Navy honor guard from Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling presented colors to open the ceremony, as Marine Staff Sergeant Teriyaki Jefferson from Quantico sang the National Anthem.

Speakers for the ceremony included Susan Spears, FRCC president; Vaughn Mahaffey, chairman of the FRCC's Military Affairs Council; Nate Wilson, president of the Quantico/Belvoir Regional Business Alliance; and retired Adm. John Harvey, chairman of the Commission on Military Installations and Defense Activities recently activated by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell.

In turn, they each recognized the importance of Marine Corps Base Quantico, Fort A. P. Hill and Naval Support Facility Dahlgren to the nation's defense, as well as the health of the local economy. "We love our military bases, and we love the military personnel and their families who are a vital part of our community," emphasized Spears.

Capping the ceremony was remarks by Lt. Col. Pete Dargle, commander for Fort A. P. Hill; Col. David Maxwell, commander for Marine Corps Base Quantico; and Capt. Peter Nette, commanding officer for Naval Support Facility (NSF) Dahlgren. They each expressed their appreciation for the support their installations and personnel receive from the community.

"The deep connection between the Dahlgren naval base and the neighboring community represents an invaluable asset that we, in the military, can never take for granted," Nette said. "My personal commitment to you, our community, is that we will do everything we can to respect and nurture our connections with you.

"I greatly appreciate the similar expression of support on the part of the community that is represented by this covenant document we're going to sign this morning," Nette continued. "I believe the commitment that it embodies is a testament to a mutually beneficial relationship that has been cultivated over time. In the case of Dahlgren, it's a history that has already spanned nearly a century."

Nette concluded, "Thank you for your support to our military members and their families. Many of them are your neighbors. Some will be in your community for a short time before they move on to their next duty assignment. Others will remain as long-term members of the community after they leave military service.

"I applaud the vision of the communities represented here today, and their purpose in signing this covenant. It recognizes the connections between us and embraces the contributions our service men and women and their families bring to the workplace and the marketplace," he said.

Community and military officials each took turns to sign the community covenant. Military signers included the base commanders for Quantico, NSF Dahlgren and Fort A. P. Hill. Signing to represent the Air Force was Lt. Col. Darren Roberts, commanding officer for the 20th Space Control Squadron, Detachment One at NSF Dahlgren.

Virginia National Guard leaders signing the covenant were Brig. Gen. Wayne Wright, deputy adjutant general of Virginia; Col. John Epperly, commander of the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team; and Lt. Col. Chris Doss, commander of the Fredericksburg-based 116th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

The covenant reads: "Together we are committed to building strong communities through recognition and support of our men and women in uniform, past and present, and their families.

"We, the leadership of this Virginia community and our nation's armed forces, recognize the sacrifice and commitment that our active duty military, reserve, National Guard, veterans and their families have made and are making every day across America, and in assignments and deployments around the world in support of our nation's national security.

"We pledge today, by this covenant, to work closely together:

"To create and encourage a strong relationship between these communities and the military and former military personnel and families who live and work in them.

"To educate men, women and children of the value and strength of having military service members, active and retired, and their families, living in their communities.

"To assist community leaders in developing programs in support of our active duty military, veterans and their families.

"We agree to support and promote the principles of this Community Covenant on this 4th day of May, 2013, in Fredericksburg, Virginia."