Six years after Jack Spittler helped re-establish a local Navy League group, Chattanooga is hosting the group's national convention this week.
Spittler, a U.S. Navy veteran of World War II, said bringing the convention to the Scenic City was a goal of his from the start.
The Navy League supports U.S. sea power through public education and awareness with open membership to civilians and veterans of the Navy, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and Merchant Marines.
Spittler stressed the league's mission of public awareness and his concern over recent recommended defense budget cuts that would halt construction of ships just as China begins building its own naval fleet.
"It's a civilian organization," Spittler, 94, said. "All you need is a desire to let America remain strong, viable and in control of the seas."
An estimated 350 attendees are expected to arrive today for events at the Chattanooga Convention Center, Tennessee Aquarium and excursions downtown and to the Chickamagua Battlefield.
Heads of Marine Corps expeditionary warfare, the chief of naval operations and other maritime leaders will speak to conventiongoers Friday.
On Thursday night a reception for members of the Wounded Warriors Regiment is scheduled at the aquarium.
Chattanooga Area Navy League President Sandy McMillian, a retired Navy commander and Navy SEAL, said it took two attempts for Chattanooga to land the convention.
He credited Lori Dodd and others at the Chattanooga Area Convention and Visitors Bureau with their efforts and trip to Colorado to bring the convention here.