VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.
Sixty Chiefs from the Hampton Roads area visited 91-year-old retired Chief Signalman Clifford Wolff at Georgian Manor May 3. The event was designed to honor Wolff’s service to his country, to let him know he is not forgotten by the military community, and to allow him to relive the pride that comes with being a Navy Chief.
“As part of our participation in the ‘We Honor Veterans’ program, our goal is to identify and serve all of our patients who are veterans and veteran spouses and help them connect with one another,” said support services coordinator, Sarah McBride. “Today is a wonderful show of support for the Navy Chief community in Hampton Roads and just shows what can happen when people connect and take the time to get to know one another.”
Westminster Canterbury and its staff provide valuable services through their program known as “memorable moments”, where they give seniors something to look forward to as they enter later chapters of their life.
Originally, Wolff’s family had thought about taking a trip to see USS Wisconsin, but because of his advanced age they decided it was best to hold something at Westminster Canterbury.
“We spoke to our Chaplain and the staff here and we thought of the possibility of one of the local Navy Chief organizations paying him a visit. We really thought it would be just a few,” said Wolff’s daughter, Susan Beachum. “To see that there are over forty Chiefs from all over Hampton Roads here today to see my father, it is hard to put into words what I’m feeling. A simple thank you cannot properly express my appreciation for everyone.”
“When we learned Mr. Wolff’s wish was to hang out with some Navy Chiefs, I knew I was very fortunate to know Chief Thompson. Our sons play soccer together, I went to practice one day and asked for his help, and it was he who organized the Chiefs to come here for this event,” said McBride. “When I asked for help, I really only expected a few to come by and see Mr. Wolff. To see how many have come here today to support us and honor the service of a retired Sailor is extraordinary.”
Wolff’s career was extensive and varied. He served in World War II , the Korean War , and the Vietnam War . Serving twice in the Navy, first from 1944 – 1946. He re-enlisted in the Navy in 1952 and continued his career until 1970, retiring as a Chief Petty Officer. Wolff’s career highlight was volunteering to serve aboard the USS Arneb (AKA-56), an Andromeda-class attack cargo ship, serving under Adm. Richard Byrd, during Operation Deep Freeze.
In 1929, Admiral Richard E. Byrd established naval outposts on the Antarctic coast and began conducting photographic and geologic mapping operations around the continent, cementing the Navy’s presence in the Antarctic. On Nov. 14, 1955 Arneb got underway as flagship of the U.S. Navy’s Operation Deep Freeze 1 (1955-56) to prepare logistics and basing support in advance of the scientific work. The operation allowed the USS Arneb to claim the distinction of crossing both the Arctic and Antarctic Circles in the course of one year, completing a circumnavigation of the globe upon her arrival at Norfolk on May 5, 1956. Forty nations collaborated to advance world knowledge in a myriad of scientific disciplines during the 18-month operation, eventually leading to the creation of the Antarctic Treaty.
“Being able to honor a veteran and retired Chief is amazing; this is why I joined the Navy. The Naval heritage and traditions that come with service, this is what this events all about,” said Senior Chief Electronics Technician, Shay Thompson. “I am overwhelmed right now at the support from my brothers and sister that have reached out to help make today special. It goes back to how Chiefs are always ready to act when called to action; I got that call and was proud to answer it.”
“I spent my entire childhood and young adult life with my dad in the Navy, I grew up a Navy brat, and I know the hardship of having a parent that must go out to sea to serve our country. These men and women here continue to take on the same duties that my father did when he served, and you can see they do it with the same pride,” said Beachum. “For everyone here to take their time to spend today with my dad is just an unbelievable honor.”
Editors note: Edits were made to correct the place of the event from Westminster Canterbury Senior Community to Georgian Manor. The event was organized by Westminster Canterbury Senior Community. Additionally there were 60 rather than 48 Chiefs who attended the event.