Squadron recognizes new commander

Published 10:25 pm Tuesday, March 6, 2018

A group of community boaters welcomed one of their own to his new command recently.

Robert “Bob” Wallace, 74, was sworn in as the 55th Nansemond River Power Squadron Commander on Saturday at Cedar Point Country Club. Squadron commanders change annually. Wallace and his wife, Brenda, have been with the squadron since 2004.

“I was really looking forward to this,” Wallace said.

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He joined the Navy in 1960 and retired in 1984 as a lieutenant commander. He spent more than two decades as a diver, salvaging airplanes and other wreckages. He recalled working in the freezing cold waters during winter recovery operations.

“We had to chop through the ice. There were blizzards, and it was below zero many times,” he said.

He went on to work for Metro Machine Corporation in 1986, a surface-ship repair company that supported the U.S. Navy fleet in Norfolk. The company was acquired by General Dynamics in 2011. He was a ship superintendent and retired in 2015.

“He’s had experience with boats and people, and he’s a good leader,” said former NRPS Commander Frank Brown. “I’m certain it’s going to be a fine year.”

Wallace has received the Senior Navigator award, the highest educational rank given by U.S. Power Squadrons, according to usps.org, and Brenda is right behind him as a Junior Navigator.

“She’s the gal that really pushed me through this,” Wallace said. “She had us going through all the courses. Seamanship, navigating and advanced piloting. We both got education awards, and we were both instructors. We went through this together.”

He also spearheaded the members’ efforts to help the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration update its National Geodetic Survey records by locating markers high and low throughout Suffolk. He’s earned the nickname “Geo Bob.”

“They’re all over the place, and there must be 200 to 300 of them in Suffolk alone,” he said.

Nansemond River Power Squadron was founded in 1964, and there are five U.S. Power Squadrons in Hampton Roads based around the Chesapeake Bay. It is the largest recreational boating organization worldwide and helps boaters safely use their vessels.

The squadron offers classes and seminars on fire extinguisher use, dangerous weather conditions and other essentials. They inspect boat for conditions and proper equipment, and each boat that passes inspections is given a decal that tells the Coast Guard it is safe for use.

NRPS will hold a three-day safe boating class from 6 to 9 p.m. March 19-21 at Suffolk Fire Station 5, 3901 Bridge Road. Call 284-1432 or email nrpowersquadron.com for registration and more information.