Hernando neighbors | Bruce Kennedy, 58

Navy man molds cadets at Central High to be leaders

Retired Command Master Chief Bruce Kennedy is an instructor with the Central High Navy Junior ROTC unit, the state’s top program.

WILL VRAGOVIC | Times

Retired Command Master Chief Bruce Kennedy is an instructor with the Central High Navy Junior ROTC unit, the state’s top program.

How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?

We have lived in Spring Hill for the past eight years. We moved here from Virginia Beach, Va. Being in the Navy, we lived in many places, but to simplify — we spent 10 years in the San Francisco bay area; 13 years in the Jacksonville area, and 21/2 years in Bermuda before moving to Virginia.

Who are the members of your family?

I am married to the former Jill Anderson, my high school sweetheart. We have been married for 39 years and have two boys — Donal, 38, and Keith, 34. My son Donal was named after my father. He and his wife, Maureen, have three children: Jocelyn, 8; Alaina, 6, and Devlin, 7 months. Unfortunately, they live in Cincinnati.

Keith and his wife, Tori, just had their first child. Allison was born Thanksgiving Day. They live in Jacksonville, so we were able to visit the day after she was born.

Tell us about your career.

I spent 30 years in the Navy as a fire controlman, where I operated and maintained the ships weapons systems. I deployed to Vietnam on the USS Enterprise for three extended cruises; to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Forrestal three times, and back to the Mediterranean aboard the USS Barry for my final cruise.

I enjoyed shore duty at the Naval Schools Command in Mare Island, Calif., where I was an instructor for the basic point defense surface missile system for three years. I served two tours at Mobile Technical Unit 12 in Mayport (Jacksonville), where I was an on-call technician to assist ships in correcting weapons systems casualties.

I also served as the fire control assistant on the staff of Destroyer Squadron 12 in Mayport, where I helped our 12 destroyers prepare for deployments. After 20 years of being a fire controlman, I switched over to the command master chief program and served as the command master chief for the U.S. Naval Air Station Bermuda, the USS Barry and finally at the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic.

For the past eight years, I have been an instructor with the Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at Central High School.

What kinds of activities are you involved in now?

Most of my time is spent with the NJROTC cadets. Being the No. 1 ROTC program in the state and one of the top programs in the nation, our program is very active, and there are few weekends that we are not doing something.

Between the rifle team, color guards, orienteering team, parades and field meets, we stay busy. On those days we are off, my wife and I enjoy riding around the countryside on our Harley.

Tell me more about the ROTC at Central.

Our NJROTC cadets at Central High helped a great deal with this year's Toys for Tots drive. We had collection bins in the classroom, and the cadets filled them with donated toys, several times over.

They also assisted with distribution by arranging the toys on tables the day before they were given out, Dec. 19. We had 68 cadets here that day, which made short work of setting up. On Dec. 20, we had 80 cadets here acting as "elves" when families arrived to pick up their toys. The event would not have been such a success without the help of the cadets. On that day, 1,260 families were served.

At this year's Christmas parade, we had 200 cadets show up in uniform to march — it was one of our largest appearances. We had the armed and unarmed exhibition teams performing, a color guard, an honor guard and a huge platoon of cadets marching.

Our program here is the largest in the state, the No. 1 program in the state and has been nationally ranked three of the past four years. We were ranked No. 2 in 2005; No. 1 in 2006, and No. 2 again in 2008. We expect to be nationally ranked again this year.

There are about 635 Navy JROTC units in the country, so we are very proud of our cadets for working so hard and accomplishing so much.

Do you have any special hobbies?

Since I am easily bored, I tend not to stick to any one hobby for too long. I have built and flown model aircraft, played a lot of softball and racquetball, been in many bowling leagues, rebuilt cars, owned a houseplant shop and played around with gardening, managed a roller rink, coached many Little League teams, managed an AAU junior swim team, and lots more.

I do love to fix things — anything that is broken I will try to fix. If I can't fix it myself, I usually fix it so no one else can fix it.

What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?

Ride the Harley. Hernando and the surrounding counties are some of the best places to ride due to the number of county roads that have little traffic and great scenery.

What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?

It would be great if there were more things for the young people to do. This is a great place for us older folks, but there is really not much for the 16-to-21 age group to do. Buccaneer Bay gets old after several years of going every day during the summer.

Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at jhayes@sptimes.com or (352) 848-1438.

Navy man molds cadets at Central High to be leaders 01/17/09 [Last modified: Saturday, January 17, 2009 12:14pm]

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