Senior Chief Mike Phillips and Origin of the Lone Sailor Navy Memorial
Senior Chief (retired) Mike Phillips and his wife Diane visited this site not long after the Recruit Training Center and Naval Training Center was redeveloped into Baldwin Park. But no historic markers recognized its military significance. Mike and Diane thought something else needed to be done. Mike was not a graduate of RTC Orlando, which makes his story even more unique. “We visited the park to see what may have been done to commemorate Navy Orlando. Although we discovered a beautiful park on the former Grinder (i.e. parade field) with nice landscaping and many sports venues, there was very little identifying it as a site with a rich Naval history.” Never one to shy away from a challenge, Mike conceived the idea for a fitting tribute to the 650,000 men and women who started Naval careers from this hallowed ground.
After approaching the local council of the Navy League for support, Mike led a team of volunteers that embarked on an extremely challenging journey, which took many years and thousands of volunteer hours. Working closely with the City Parks Department, the original architectural firm who designed Blue Jacket Park, and the Navy Memorial Foundation, Mike conceived of adapting the famous Lone Sailor statue into a truly unique memorial to our Sailors--past, present, and future. “Our goal was to design a first class memorial and to interface with the existing park architecture. We had no idea of the complexity of this project when we started- but our Navy League Council is all about dedication and is blessed with many great volunteers who never quit. We also needed to raise a huge amount of money, something new for all of us, and I salute our generous donors, large and small, who gave us their trust.”
Mike is retired from the U.S. Navy and his business life and living in Orlando, FL, with his lovely wife Diane. He had a full Naval career, serving from 1957 to 1980 and retiring as a Senior Chief Petty Officer. He performed as a Training Systems Technician, working on simulations systems for Naval Aviation fighters, attack, and reconnaissance aircraft. After his retirement from the Navy, Mike worked in the Training and Simulation Systems industry in Sunnyvale, CA, Binghamton, NY, and Orlando. He was a Systems Engineer and worked on the design of a number of aircraft simulators such as the B-2A, B-52H, C-130, F-14A and the F/A-18C. Mike also worked in new business development and retired from the industry as Vice President and District Director for American Systems Corporation in 2010.