Ron Demes, business manager of Naval Air Station Key West, recently received the highest honor the Secretary of the Navy can give to a civilian employee.
In a surprise announcement during the Oct. 13 Navy Birthday Ball, Demes received the Secretary of the Navy Distinguished Civilian Service Award.
Capt. Patrick Lefere, NAS Key West commanding officer, presented the award, which is given annually to a small number of civilian employees nationally. "Mr. Demes' innumerable contributions made an invaluable difference to the Navy, the community and entire South Florida federal workforce," the award cites.
Lefere has worked closely with Demes for more than two years and said he relies on Demes' knowledge when it comes to executing the mission of the air station.
"With his 29 years of experience on this installation starting in the Public Works department and ultimately moving up to the senior civilian business manager position, Mr. Demes' sage advice and counsel are invaluable to me as commanding officer," said Lefere. "There is not another person on this Naval Air Station who has devoted more time and effort into ensuring we can complete our important mission. Ron pours his heart and soul into his job and this installation's superior capabilities and services are a direct result of his efforts."
Demes, a native of Edison, N.J., graduated from Penn State University in 1976 with a degree in civil engineering and was hired by NAS Key West in 1983. He has served in various positions and has left an indelible stamp on both the air station and the community, according to NAS Key West spokeswoman Trice Denny.
For the air station, Demes has served as an ex-officio member of the Key West Planning Board, Key West Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Local Redevelopment Authority, Key West Truman Waterfront Advisory Board and Monroe County Planning Commission.
Demes' community involvement includes the Key West Military Affairs Committee president; Leadership Monroe County president; Society of American Military Engineers Key West Post president; Navy League Key West Council president; Sunrise Rotary Club board member, Community Service Committee Chair and Paul Harris Fellow; Propeller Club of the United States Port of Key West member; and Sigsbee Charter School Facilities Committee member. He is
also an active member in his church serving as a trustee and on several committees. While it may seem like Demes keeps a full calendar, he credits this involvement toward his success in helping the air station maintain its operational and readiness missions.
"As NASKW faced extremely formidable challenges, I was fortunate enough to work for at least 12 commanding officers who inspired me as part of their team to realize countless successes against unbelievable odds and extreme circumstances," he said.
Receiving the award and being surprised with it at the Navy Birthday Ball, however, caught Demes off-guard, which is exactly how the commanding officer wanted it.
"It was an honor for me to present Mr. Demes with this prestigious award and especially to make it a surprise," said Lefere. "Not much happens on this base without Ron knowing about it...trust me."