SUFFOLK — Roger Hirsh spent most of his adult life dedicated to the Navy: three decades on active duty, followed by another 10 years as a civilian pharmacist at Naval Medical Center Portsmouth.
Both his wife and daughter also served, so to say there's a lot of Navy pride in the Hirsh family would be an understatement.
Having spent so much time in the Navy, especially stationed in Virginia, Hirsh was shocked when some Coast Guard friends pointed something out a few years back: there's no Virginia specialty license plate honoring the Navy.
That's right, in a Commonwealth that is home to the world's largest Navy base and with more than 250 different specialty license plates, there's no plate dedicated to the Navy.
"This is crazy. That was my reaction. It was kind of like 'You're kidding me,' and that's the reaction I get from most people I talk to," Hirsh told News 3 anchor Todd Corillo.
"Forty-two other states have Navy license plates. Not Virginia. I was just dumbfounded," he added.
Since 2017, Hirsh has been on a mission to change that. He's got the required paperwork completed with the DMV, a sponsor in the General Assembly and a mock-up of what the plates would look like.
There's just one hurdle he hasn't been able to overcome yet: meeting the required 450 prepaid orders to make the plates a reality.
Currently there are 366 prepaid orders, leaving 84 more to go.
The plates will cost $25 as opposed to the normal $10 for specialty plates. That's because the Navy plates would be revenue-sharing, with $15 from each going to the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
"By doing so they would stand to raise quite a bit of money to help Navy and Marine Corps families in Virginia, and of course many of those are in Tidewater," Hirsh explained.
If approved, Hirsh says the Navy plates would be available in the smaller motorcycle size too, as well as in a handicapped version.
If you're interested in supporting the effort, Hirsh has set up a website with more information here.