US Navy Officer Volunteers to Mentor Next Generation of Leaders

Daily Point of Light # 7797 Apr 24, 2024

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Bill Noddin. Read his story and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

Every month, the eager cadets of the US Naval Sea Cadet Corps (USNSCC) convene at naval bases and other military installations across the US for an action-packed weekend of drills. Amidst the disciplined spectacle of neatly pressed uniforms, polished shoes and determined expressions, it’s not seasoned adults who stand ready, but rather 10- to 18-year-olds training to become the next wave of leaders.

These young cadets immerse themselves in a diverse array of activities during these monthly drill weekends and summer trainings. From Aviation and Seabee training to SEAL Team exercises, music and culinary classes, each course is crafted to cultivate leadership qualities that will equip these cadets for future roles in the military or any other professional field.

However, none of this would be possible without the dedicated adult volunteers of the USNSCC, including Bill Noddin. In addition to actively serving as a chief petty officer with the US Navy, Bill has volunteered with the USNSCC for over six years, primarily as the executive officer of the Top Hatters Squadron in Virginia and Orion Squadron in Washington.

As executive officer, Bill guides the senior leadership cadets in running the unit.

“Sea Cadets is very big about the cadets running their own drills. But we don’t expect 17, 18-year-olds to do that without help. So, I would help guide them, answer their questions and ensure that they were doing things as best as they were able to,” Bill explained.

Despite juggling a demanding job while raising his own three kids, Bill finds mentoring the cadets rewarding, witnessing firsthand the tremendous change within them.

Bill Noddin (right) presents a USNSCC Chief Petty Officer with an award for graduating the program. /Courtesy Bill Noddin

“I had a cadet who messed up, so we had to remove him from the program. He took that very hard at the time. But he called me two years later and said, ‘I just wanted to say thank you for what you guys did. I’ve joined the Navy, I’ve been promoted twice now and I don’t think it would have ever happened had I not been a part of the cadets. You guys showed me what right looks like,’” Bill recalled.

Another cadet, initially very quiet and reserved, transformed into an outgoing, smiling and confident individual – so much so that she was even named Cadet of the Year.

“We have 10-year-olds who walk into this program, and they’re scared to death,” said JoAnn Taft, commanding officer of the Top Hatters Squadron. “They’ve never spent the night away from home and here they are, showing up to our program, spending the night with 30 other kids and they don’t know what to do. But Bill puts them at ease. He knows when to comfort. Or he knows when to say, ‘Hey, you’re 16 years old. You can handle more. You need to take on more responsibility.’”

“He cares about every part of a cadet’s life. If things are going wrong at home, he can see it and he can adjust how he mentors and how he communicates with a cadet by understanding them personally. Bill has changed our unit for the better,” JoAnn added.

Recently, Bill shifted his role within the USNSCC to become the training group director for Virginia. In this capacity, he plays a crucial role in developing and overseeing both summer and winter training programs. Additionally, he volunteers as the Mid-Atlantic regional shooting advisor, guiding the marksmanship program and ensuring safe and effective firearm training for cadets across the Carolinas, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland regions.

Even if the US Navy deploys or stations him in another state or country, Bill hopes to continue volunteering with the Sea Cadets for as long as possible.

“My advice for people who want to start volunteering is find something you’re passionate about and just do it,” Bill said. “The initial steps of starting might be scary. But once you get past that, it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do as part of your life.”

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Bill? Find local volunteer opportunities.

Alicia Lee