CHICAGO (NNS) –Navy recruiters from across the country joined forces with Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Chicago recruiters to “Swarm” Chicagoland on a mission dedicated to locate elite candidates who have what it takes to excel in high-demand, cutting-edge fields offered by the world’s greatest Navy and increase Navy awareness Feb. 22 – Mar. 1.

“The Navy, like in business, depends on recruiting the best and brightest,” said Rear Adm. Brendan R. McLane, Commander of Navy Recruiting Command. “The Navy competes for elite talent with a range of competitors, which is especially challenging during a hot job market.”

“We are looking for intelligent, hardworking, and strong-willed individuals who want to be on the cutting edge of innovation,” said Chief Navy Counselor Henry Cruz, division leading chief petty officer for Navy Recruiting Station (NRS) Milwaukee. “Currently, we are focused on spreading the word about the opportunities available in nuclear engineering, special warfare, cryptology, intelligence, and information systems management.”

The “Swarm” officially began with a future Sailor swear-in at UW-Milwaukee Panther arena during the Milwaukee Admirals hockey game. Vice Adm. Dirk J. Debbink (ret.), from Oconomowoc, Wis., said he was honored to administer the oath of enlistment.

“It was such a great way to start the ‘Swarm’,” said Cruz. “The goal is to completely immerse into the local community and I feel like we were able to accomplish that. The Future Sailors got a standing ovation from the crowd; it really helped set the tone for the rest of the week.”

After that, the 137-member “Swarming Team” came out in force, visiting 31 high schools, five universities, and 11 community outreach events, culminating in the first ever Gaming Zone event at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo (C2E2).

“We have a lot of competition for the best people, so we have to make sure we’re putting in our best efforts and using every opportunity,” said Navy Counselor 1st Class Amber N. Holmes, NRD Chicago recruiter currently stationed at NRS Six Corners and Chicago native. “Getting the chance to set up at C2E2 was a great way to meet a lot of different types of people and be able to show them that there is a place for everyone in the Navy. It was a great experience.”

NRD Chicago, part of Navy Recruiting Command, is assigned 61,945 square miles across Northern Illinois, Northwest Indiana, Eastern Wisconsin and the Western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It includes 46 recruiting stations divided into nine divisions charged with the mission to provide the Navy Fleet with the proper quantity and quality of Sailors to keep our Navy and our Nation strong.

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Updated March 1, 2017 (kbh)