en English
en Englishes Spanishpt Portuguesear Arabicht Haitian Creolezh-TW Chinese (Traditional)


Your Local Online News Source for Over 3 Decades

“A once-in-a-lifetime event”

coming to saugus
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

First woman commander of the USS Constitution Named Grand Marshal of this year’s Memorial Day Parade

  The town’s Annual Memorial Day Parade is still more than two and a half months away. But Saugus Veterans Council Commander Stephen L. Castinetti is already calling it “a special and historical parade for Saugus.”

  “This is a once-in-a-lifetime event that you cannot miss!” declared Castinetti this week in a message to local veterans and Saugus residents.

  The parade – which is scheduled to get underway at 10 a.m. on Saturday on May 28 (Memorial Day will be celebrated on Monday, May 30, the designated holiday) – will be “historical,” according to Castinetti, a retired U.S. Navy captain, because USS Constitution Commander Billie June “BJ” Farrell has agreed to be the parade’s Grand Marshal and keynote speaker for the town’s Memorial Day Ceremony. “It’s historical because Commander Farrell became the first female Commanding Officer of this great ship in 224 years,” Castinetti said.

  “Come out and welcome Commander Farrell to Massachusetts and, more importantly to Saugus!! Meet the new Commanding Officer of the USS Constitution, Old Ironsides, on May 28,” he said.

  On Jan. 21, a Change-of-Command ceremony was held at the USS Constitution at the Charlestown Navy Yard. It was there that Commander John Benda transferred command of the USS Constitution to Commander BJ Farrell, 39, who became the 77th Commanding Officer of Massachusetts’s Ship of State. The USS Constitution is the world’s oldest commissioned warship that remains afloat.

  Here’s a short biography of her education and military service leading up to her current assignment as told by the USS Constitution Museum on its website:

  Billie June (BJ) Farrell was born in Paducah, Kentucky. She attended the United States Naval Academy and was commissioned in 2004 with a Bachelor of Science in political science. In 2009, she earned a Master of Science degree in operations management from the University of Arkansas.

  Her first division officer tour was aboard USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) as electrical officer. She then briefly took over as OI Division Officer before being promoted to navigator for her second tour. After completing her two division officer tours, Farrell reported to Commander, Naval Personnel Command (COMNAVPERSCOM) in Millington, Tennessee and became an action officer in PERS-833 (Post Selection Board Matters). While there, she assumed duties as delay section head and assistant board screener.

  After departing PERS-833, Farrell started the Department Head pipeline. She reported to USS San Jacinto (CG 56) in March 2012 as the weapons officer and then became the combat systems officer onboard. Her next tour was as deputy director for professional development at the United States Naval Academy. After departing the Naval Academy, Farrell reported to Commander, Naval Surface Force Atlantic as deputy N3. She then served as executive officer onboard USS Vicksburg (CG 69).

  Farrell’s awards include two Meritorious Service Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, and three Meritorious Unit Commendation Medals.

  Castinetti noted there will be several changes to this year’s parade. “We will form up at Anna Parker at 9 a.m. and step off at 10 a.m. The parade will proceed up Essex Street through Cliftondale and then Central Street to Winter Street and stopping at the Veterans Lot in Riverside Cemetery,” Castinetti said. “We will conduct our entire Memorial Day ceremony at the cemetery. We will not proceed to the Town Hall. At the conclusion of the ceremony, all will be dismissed from Riverside Cemetery.”

Contact Advocate Newspapers