Reflecting on 100 years of leadership at Naval Station Norfolk

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — As we continue to highlight the 100th anniversary of Naval Station Norfolk, we’re focusing on its past, its impact on our local community and the world, as well as its people and its leadership.

You’ve heard the quote: “Leaders are not born, they’re made.” Nowhere is that more true than in the United States Navy. As we celebrate the centennial of Naval Station Norfolk, we reflect on its leadership — those who have guided its growth since 1917.

Naval Station Norfolk | 100 Years

Albert C. Dillingham was the very first commander of the Naval Operating Base, as it was originally known. He is credited with the construction start up of the base. Major growth took place during the first two World Wars, and it nearly doubled in size during World War II.

Another early leader was Admiral Jackson Parker. He started as an enlisted man and began to earnestly connect the Naval base to the surrounding community.

Admiral Jake Tobin served as Commander Naval Base Norfolk in the early 90s, at a crucial time for the Navy. It was reorganizing and developing a regional administration. Admiral Tobin was instrumental in the 1999 creation of the Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic post along with several similar positions set up around the country.

The first and, so far, only female commanding officer of Naval Station Norfolk is Admiral Mary Jackson. She was commanding officer from 2010 to 2012.

“I’ve been very, very fortunate to be on the bow way with several other women for policy and legal changes that have occurred over the years,” Admiral Jackson said.

Photos: NSN leadership through the years

Current Commander Captain Rich McDaniel took the helm back in March and is thrilled to be part of the base’s centennial celebration. He is well versed on its history and how much Naval Station Norfolk has grown.

“Now we’re 6,200 acres, we have $5 billion worth of infrastructure here on the base and a huge impact on the local economy, in addition to the mission of the Navy globally,” says Captain McDaniel.

Next week, WAVY’s Lex Gray and Deanna LeBlanc will feature more stories of Naval Station Norfolk’s history and show you what the next one hundred years might look like.