Bay Defense Alliance Earns Navy's Honor

BAY COUNTY - One local non-profit organization is nominated for a prestigious award recognized by all branches of the United States Military.

Because of their selfless work and thousands of volunteer hours, the Bay Defense Alliance has been nominated for the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award.

The military refused to induct Zachary Fisher during World War II because of an injury, but that didn't stop him from being a life-long military supporter.

Because of his acts, the military created a humanitarian award in his honor, recognizing civilian acts of patriotism.

When the Department of Defense began cutting budgets and closing bases in 1993, Bay County Chamber leaders formed a group to lobby for our local bases.

During that first round of Base, Realignment, and Closure Commission cuts, and every round since, the Bay Defense Alliance, or BDA, has successfully argued the importance of our Bay County installations.

The BDA has also helped local bases land new projects and missions.

Commander Hung Cao in charge of the Diving & Salvage Training Center on Naval Support Activity - Panama City. He says, "Primarily, Bay Defense has been our biggest proponent with the Department of Defense. They go out to help get us projects and any kind of red tape that happens, they help us circumvent it."

The BDA's latest project was obtaining a grant to reopen the Hwy 98 gate which will be happening very soon.

The new gate will alleviate traffic congestion around NSA-PC.

Because of it's dedication to projects like this, the Bay Defense Alliance has been nominated to receive the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Distinguished Civilian Humanitarian Award.

The organization has met the three criteria for the award:
1. Exemplifying Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher’s personal qualities
of patriotism, generosity, and selfless dedication to the members of
the Armed Forces of the United States, through an outstanding
humanitarian act or service.
2. Selflessly contributes an extraordinary amount of time, talent,
or resources to benefit members of the Armed Forces of the United
States.
3. Significantly enhances the quality of life of military members
or their families through the act or service.

Bay Defense Alliance President, Tom Neubauer, said, "It's the thirteen organizations like our defense alliance that are sorta the the beginnings, the local community effort that supports the entire premise that Florida is the most defense friendly state in the country."

Commander Cao added, "I always tell people that Panama City is the most loving and really a community that really embraces the military and bay defense is just an extension of that hospitality that the bay county has given us."

The BDA earned the Navy's nomination for the award. It will be put up against nominees from all the other military branches.

Since every branch trains on our bases, Commander Cao believes the BDA has a pretty good shot at winning.

The winner will receive the award next January.


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