Pascagoula Homeport Commander Reflects On Very Eventful Years

Cmdr. Tara LaCavera has a bird's eye view to overlook Naval Station Pascagoula. When she arrived two years ago, she was told this would be quiet tour of duty.

"I thought I was coming to a sleepy little hollow," LaCavera said. "That could not have been further from the truth."

On Oct.12th, 2000, terrorists bombed the USS Cole, built here in Mississippi. The Navy brought it home to Pascagoula for repairs, right next door to Naval Station Pascagoula.

The commander says one of the defining moments of her career was when the USS Cole pulled into Pascagoula in December, 2000.

"We off loaded the entire weapons complement off the Cole as she was heading into Ingalls shipyard," LaCavera said. "That was something that had never been done before, and hopefully will never be done again. It was dangerous and it was unprecedented."

Then came September 11th. Commander LaCavera had the duty of making unprecedented security changes at the Homeport. The Navy took control of the three-mile causeway and the waters surrounding the island base.

"Unless you have some sort of business here on the base, we are not going to let you in. And that's for everybody's safety. I don't see that changing."

The nation's current war on terrorism is also affecting the base. Although Cmdr. LaCavera couldn't give any details, she says all base personnel are working long hours to support the war effort.

"Even though we are not in Afghanistan, and not at the tip of the spear, we know what we are doing here is directly related to what is going on at the front, and nobody is complaining."

The commander says morale at the Homeport is high, and everyone is focused on protecting the nation. She hopes to find that same spirit at her next assignment.

Cmdr. LaCavera also believes the Naval Station's future is promising. She says the Navy is about to announce the construction of several new housing developments, which is strong sign of the Navy's confidence in Pascagoula's home port.