Naval hospital couple retires after 70 years combined federal service

18 Dec 2015 | Cpl. Mark Watola Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. - Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune wished fair winds and following seas to two valued staff members, Raymond and Georgia Applewhite, during a retirement ceremony at the hospital quarterdeck at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Dec. 18.

Raymond and his wife, Georgia, retired after a combined federal service of more than 70 years, including Raymond’s service in the Navy.

Both Raymond and Georgia have served in different capacities at the naval hospital for decades. Georgia worked to support the families of service members, as the beneficiary assistance supervisor.

Raymond came from humble beginnings in North Carolina, where he worked in agriculture while attending school.

"I’m a country boy who grew up in the south under some duress in the 70s," said Raymond. "I picked cotton and harvested tobacco. I started low, I guess you could say. It was honest work but I did that while I was going to school."

In 1970, Raymond graduated from Wilson County Technical Institute. With an interest in medicine originating from a part-time job as a hospital orderly in his hometown of Wilson, North Carolina, he enlisted in the Navy and became a corpsman in 1971.

Raymond’s first duty station was Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune, where he would later work for civil service in 1994.

"I had four tours with the Marines and my best tours of duty in the Navy were with Marines," said Raymond. "I have a great deal of admiration and respect for Marines, as I do the Navy as well."

Raymond served 22 years in the Navy and retired as a senior chief hospital corpsman. But due to his fondness of the Camp Lejeune area and the Navy and Marine Corps, he entered civil service with the Naval Hospital soon after retiring from the Navy.

"Transition from military to civil service was easy for me," said Raymond. "I wanted to be affiliated with this base. After the Navy (my wife and I) stayed here. There are a lot of things about Camp Lejeune and Jacksonville that we liked and still like."

Raymond has affected many people he has interacted with during his time at the hospital.

"He has a unique ability to find the best in every situation, and is more than willing to share his knowledge with others," said Cmdr. Kimberly Taylor, chief communications officer for NHCL. "The Naval Hospital will not be the same without Mr. Applewhite. He did everything he could and then some to make Navy medicine, our hospital, the base and this community a better place for everyone."

Though he and his wife are retired, they still plan to continue to serve the community.

"We won’t just go home and sit down," said Raymond. "That’s not in my DNA. So we’ll be doing something in an unofficial capacity, in the volunteer arena or something along those lines."