NORFOLK, Va. - May is Military Appreciation Month and News 3 is taking the time to share stories about the men and women who serve our country.
From the seas to the skies and all the space in between, our military touches every part of Hampton Roads.
Take it from those who have served like Col. Walter Creves, a retired U.S. Army Veteran," we have the greatest military in the world and everybody ought to be proud of them."
The pride runs deep within each of the five branches represented in Hampton Roads. We have the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marine Corps. Norfolk is also home to the only NATO command on U.S. soil.
"Your presence on the high seas will send a message that two of the finest forces on the face of the earth, the US navy and marine corp are standing watch for freedom," said Governor Glenn Youngkin.
Norfolk also houses the largest naval base in the world, employing 46,000 active-duty military and 21,000 civilian personnel.
Many of these men and women make the ultimate sacrifice, deploying far and wide, leaving loved ones at home.
We spoke with Lt. Greg Schwarga in September when he returned from deployment. He said, "this still remains the greatest country in the world and I would do it every day."
Naval Station Norfolk is home to 64 ships and 187 aircraft, all supporting the operational readiness of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet. According to the Hampton Road Alliance, in total, the Navy has seven installations in Hampton Roads:
- Naval Station Norfolk
- Naval Air Station Oceana
- Naval Air Station Oceana Dam Neck Annex
- Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
- Norfolk Naval Shipyard
- Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic
- Commander Naval Surface Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet
Two of the country's 12 joint bases are also located in Hampton Roads. Joint Base Langley-Eustis unites the Army and Air Force on the Peninsula.
Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story is the largest military employer in Virginia Beach with about 18,000 sailors, soldiers and marines.
Serving as the last line of defense for our waterways is the Coast Guard. Sector Virginia is responsible for waterways from the Virginia-North Carolina line to the Virginia-Maryland line.
It's over 3,000 miles of shoreline, protecting the Chesapeake Bay and Port of Virginia.
The Fifth Coast Guard District, located in Portsmouth, ensures the safety and security of the oceans, coastal areas, and marine transportation system within America’s Mid-Atlantic Region. According to their website, "D5’s 156,000 square miles of ocean, bays, rivers, wetlands and tidal marshes are unique and filled with historical significance, encompassing six states, vital geographic waterways, several major mid-Atlantic ports, the largest naval base in the world, and our Nation’s capital."
In fact, this year the Coast Guard said they've had more than 100 cases and saved more than twenty lives. The main unit located in Portsmouth is made up of close to 2,000 people.
It all adds up to an extraordinary number of people serving this country every day, all while calling Hampton Roads home.
The military's presence also has a very big impact on the economy. The Navy alone, which is our area's largest installation, reported in 2020 that the economic impact to Hampton Roads was nearly $15.8 billion.
Joint Base Langley-Eustis reported an increase of $485 million in impact since 2018.