By Travis Weger
Mount St. Helens erupted, the Rubik’s Cube was introduced and the world was trying to figure out who shot J.R. on Dallas. The year was 1980, it was the beginning of a new decade and Logistical Support Specialist with Military Sealift Command (MSC) Detachment Gaeta Enrico Della-Valle was signing papers to work for the United States government.
Della-Valle, a local national born and raised in Gaeta, Italy, a few kilometers from the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), celebrated his retirement with friends and coworkers Dec. 3. This celebration marked 40 years of federal service with the United States government. His experience spanned four decades with Naval Support Activity Detachment Gaeta and MSC.
“After retirement I have a lot of things to do including taking it easy and walking around,” said Della-Valle. “I have a nephew that is five years old, I will play with him again. It is time to play now.”
Commander of MSC Europe and Africa (MSCEURAF) and Task Force 63 (CTF 63) Capt. Frank Okata attended to celebrate Della-Valle at his retirement luncheon. Okata honored him with a speech explaining the value Della-Valle provided to MSC and presented a CTF 63 command coin.
“Enrico has really furthered us professionally, personally and operationally,” said Okata. “It shows the true value of his 40 years of service to both Italy and the United States. Without people like him, it is difficult to make this operation move like clockwork like it has over the period of his tenure.”
Master Logistics Support Representative with Naval Supply Systems Command Sabastian Guercia presented Della-Valle with a framed photo of the USS Constitution’s port call to Gaeta in 1849. During the visit, Pope Pius IX boarded the Constitution, which marked the first time in history that a Pope had visited U.S. sovereign territory. Those surrounding Della-Valle signed the margins of the photo to frame as a keepsake from their time working together.
His coworkers also presented him with a MSCEURAF/CTF 63 ceramic decanter and inlaid wood command plaque.
“I have known Enrico for 25 years,” said Guercia. “When we first met, he seemed like a distinguished gentleman, as he still is today. He is a good friend and coworker and I’m sad to see him go, but I’m really happy he made it to the finish line.”
Della-Valle, an avid Napoli soccer fan, is looking forward to attending his first game at the Stadio San Paolo, where the Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli team plays.
“Enrico would always say, ‘Forza Napoli, aldila' del risultato’,” explained Guercia, “which means, ‘Go Naples, regardless of the results.’ Spoken like a true fan.”
An avid family man, Della-Valle said that he is looking forward to spending time with his family in retirement and making olive oil from the trees in his back yard. During his last harvest, he created 22 liters of olive oil from his grove.
“The value of local nationals working with the U.S. government demonstrates Italy and the United States’ commitment to both our bilateral relationship and to the North Atlantic Treaty,” said Okata, “and it is people like Enrico that bring us together.”