Shipbuilders show off the miniature Mjolnirs they received on Veterans Day as a thank you for their service in the military from fellow shipbuilder Dennis Alvarez. Photo by Lexi Whitehead

Shipbuilder Finds Unique Way to Recognize Veterans

Published December 14, 2022

Dennis Alvarez, an X11 makeup foreman, comes from a family with strong ties to the military.

“My father is a vet, and I have two brothers who are vets,” he said. “I really understand the sacrifices they make and the sacrifices their families make.”

That’s why he decided to dig into his own pockets to do something special for the veterans in his area. He wanted to make sure they felt appreciated for their service to the nation – both in the armed forces and at Newport News Shipbuilding – on Veterans Day in November.

Alvarez gave each veteran a miniature Mjolnir – or Thor’s hammer – replica that included the insignia of the branch in which they served. The hammers were designed by Alvarez’s Navy veteran twin brother.

Dennis Alvarez, pictured at the far left, with the veterans he recognized with gifts on Veterans Day. Photo by Lexi Whitehead

General Foreman Phillip Gillispie said the veterans were brought into a conference room, thanked by leaders, given an opportunity to share stories and presented with Alvarez’s gifts. The veterans on the team were appreciative of the efforts.

“It was good recognition,” said Eric Vargas. “It’s kind of unheard of for us to experience something like that.”

A shipbuilder for 15 years, Michael Rivera also was grateful for the recognition. “It made you feel wanted,” he said.

“I’ve been here 21 years. Our bosses would always come up to you and say, ‘Thank you for your service,’ but this was the first time they made a bigger production out of it,” said Rob Wolfe.

Alvarez was notably absent from the Veterans Day recognition, but for a good reason. “My wife had a baby the day before Veterans Day, so I was actually out that day and didn’t get to see it firsthand,” he said.

A member of the Enterprise (CVN 80) engagement team, Alvarez said recognition is important for veterans and all shipbuilders. “Sometimes that extra attention can really motivate somebody to go above and beyond,” he said.