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CEO Update Oct 26, 2021

Family and Friends:

It has been a couple of weeks since I’ve had the opportunity to touch base with you. Time slipped by as we readied for the inaugural Freedom of the Seas Awards this past Saturday evening.

Last Friday, the Surface Navy Association (SNA) hosted their annual awards event aboard the Battleship IOWA as part of the Freedom of the Seas weekend. Several active service members were honored for their accomplishments by the leadership of the association. The SNA team graciously stepped in and helped the museum team prepare for Saturday night’s event supporting the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA.

This gala was our first major event in support of the museum and the first large-scale event planned by our team since LA Fleet Week 2019 (2021 was cancelled two weeks before it kicked off). I couldn’t be more proud of the entire crew for pulling together to make this event an incredible success. 

Compliments have continued to come in from crew, attendees, awards and host committee members, and board members for the job well done and the exceptional program. The team assembled an engaging and enjoyable lineup throughout the evening that highlighted the accomplishments of Admiral Michelle Howard USN (Ret.), Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, UPS, and Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien (Ret.).

The festivities began with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres on the bow, a call to order by retired US Army master sergeant and White House Chef Andre Rush, and colors performed by Chaparral High School NJROTC. 

The formal portion of the program began with a short video on the National Museum of the Surface Navy efforts, followed by RADM Mike Shatynski, USN (Ret.) introducing a tribute to General Colin Powell and a brief introduction to the concept of Freedom of the Seas. RADM Shatynski invited FLTCM Joann Ortloff, USN (Ret.) to the stage to be the emcee for the evening, and the night of awards commenced. 

Awards Committee Chair Tanya Acker highlighted the accomplishments of the late VADM Samuel L. Gravely, Jr., USN (Ret.). She was joined by RADM Shatynski to present the 2021 Gravely award to ADM Michelle Howard, USN (Ret.). The trio was joined on stage by the four 2021 VADM Gravely Essay Contest winners and sponsor Joe Walsh from Collier, Walsh, Nakazawa for the annual presentation. ADM Michelle Howard announced that she was making a significant annual pledge towards the essay contest and museum over the next several years.

Next up was Mayor Eric Garcetti, recognized for his leadership during the Covid-19 pandemic with the 2021 Humanitarian Service Award. All the awards were hand sculpted by artist and volunteer crewmember Ben Jackel.

Following the Humanitarian Service Award, RADM Samuel J. Cox, USN (Ret.), Director of Naval History and Heritage Command, presented an engaging and informative brief on the Battle of Leyte Gulf. Thank you to RADM Cox for flying out for the inaugural Freedom of the Seas Awards in support of the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA.

After RADM Cox’s riveting presentation, the Global Trade and Communications Award was presented to UPS. Bruce Mac Rae, Vice President of State Government Affairs, accepted on behalf of all UPS employees. Bruce continued the pledge string by making a personal commitment to support the museum annually.

The final award presentation was to Ambassador Robert C. O’Brien, (Ret.), and he graciously accepted  with a speech covering a range of topics, but primarily focused on the importance of Freedom of the Seas and the future of our nation.

Throughout the evening, several individuals made additional commitments to support the National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA. 

Thank you to all the attendees and guests who joined us Saturday evening, and thank you to the incredible crew for their efforts in putting together an excellent event. This event would not be possible without generous individuals, supporters, and corporations.

Please consider donating to the museum at or email us at to join in making an annual pledge towards the museum.

Kind regards,
Jonathan Williams
President & CEO

We would like to recognize the following for their generous support and commitment for Freedom of the Seas 2021:

Host Committee

  • Judge Stephen Larson (Ret.), Larson LLP
  • Scott Palmer, Palmer Hunter & Hall


  • Alexander B. Gray, American Global Strategies LLC
  • Alan Jackson, Werksman, Jackson & Quinn LLP

Sponsors & Table Sponsors

  • Surface Navy Association
  • Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP
  • Pacific Western Bank
  • Fincantieri Marinette Marine
  • UPS
  • Trione Vineyards & Winery
  • American Global Strategies LLC
  • Geveden Industrial
  • Larson LLP
  • Tanya Acker & Randy Douthit
  • Collier Walsh Nakazawa
  • Raytheon Intelligence & Space
  • Shelley Allen and Amb. Bob Kohorst (Ret.)
  • Steve Shatynski
  • Fund Raising Strategies, Inc.
  • The Port of Los Angeles
  • Navy League of the United States

In-Kind Sponsors

  • Pepsi
  • Europa Village Wineries
  • Anchor Steam
  • Tito’s Handmade Vodka

2021 Planning Committee

  • RADM Mike Shatynski, USN (Ret.), Chairman of the Board
  • Tanya Acker, Awards Committee Chair
  • FLTCM Joann Ortloff, USN (Ret.), Emcee
  • Surface Navy Association
  • LCDR Ken Hagihara, USN (Ret.)
  • CDR Bill Lauper, USN (Ret.)
  • Scott Palmer
  • CAPT Rick Easton, USN (Ret.)
  • Trey Kozacik

Special thanks to The National Museum of the Surface Navy at the Battleship IOWA Leadership Council, Chairman’s Flag Council, Board of Directors, President’s Advisory Board, and Crew. Event was produced by Sharyl Holtzman of Girl Rock Ltd.

Some of the Distinguished Guests in Attendance included:

AMB Robert O’Brien, (Ret.); AMB Bob Kohorst (Ret.); ADM Michelle Howard, USN (Ret.); VADM Ron Route, USN (Ret.); RADM Sam Cox, USN (Ret.); RADM Mike Shatynski, USN (Ret.); RDML Jon Kreitz, USN (Ret.); RDML Jesse Wilson, USN (Ret.); Governor Pete Wilson, (Ret.); Honorable Mike Antonovich, (Ret.); Mayor Eric Garcetti, L.A. Councilmember Joe Buscaino, Rolling Hills Councilmember Patrick Wilson, L.A. Fire Chief Ralph Terazzas, Tanya Acker, Chef Rush, and Antwone Fisher.

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