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NEWS | March 10, 2023

Community Service Means More than Just Volunteer Work for NSWC Dahlgren Division Engineer

By Dave Ellis, NSWCDD Corporate Communications

For Scott Larimer, community service is a family tradition. He likes to say it is ingrained into his DNA. Looking back on his youth growing up in the central Pennsylvania town of Bellefonte, his father’s sense of service laid the community service foundation for Larimer.

Charles “Rusty” Larimer was a union worker for the telephone company. Being in the union meant the possibility of a strike every three years. “I remember one year there was a strike and my dad went three months without his regular source of income,” Larimer recalled. “But, he was still doing community service work, helping other people and doing things for the town. For community service to be that important to him, it seemed to me to be something worth doing in my own life.”

The elder Larimer also served as “the” local Santa Claus for almost 40 years before a medical issue forced him to step down from his sleigh. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, Larimer’s father was booked every day for parades, nursing homes, hospitals and any other event that required a visit from St. Nick. “My dad always said the joy on the faces of the kids was all the payment he needed,” his son said. “That was the kind of role model I had.”

Following in his father’s footsteps, Larimer began his community service legacy during his time in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. While he was a student at Penn State, he volunteered with the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, the largest student-run philanthropy organization in the world. Each year the group hosts a 46-hour dance marathon to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which funds cancer research and covers childhood cancer patients’ medical expenses at the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. This year’s marathon featured 707 dancers and over 16,000 volunteers who raised a record-breaking $15 million.

After moving to Virginia, the lead systems engineer in the Electromagnetic and Sensor Systems Department found service opportunities with Historic Fredericksburg, the Fredericksburg Jaycees, Cub Scouts and as a volunteer baseball coach with the local parks and rec league. Larimer also spent several seasons using his personal video equipment to record James Monroe High School football games from high atop the stadium’s press box.

When lugging 60 pounds of gear to the top of the stadium became too much for his ailing back, Larimer looked for a new volunteer opportunity. He turned to his radio frequency (RF) work at Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) for inspiration. “I’ve worked in RF for my entire career here at Dahlgren, and I asked myself why I never bothered to get my amateur radio license,” Larimer said. “The amateur radio community provides a lot of community service, and that provided the final motivation to get my license.”

Larimer joined the Rappahannock Valley Amateur Radio Club (RVARC) after earning his license and his KN4RPA call sign in January 2019. The group provides communication services for events in the City of Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford. Through the RVARC, Larimer volunteered his time and skills at area events like the state basketball tournament for the Special Olympics and the Marine Corps Historic Half.

Through his volunteer efforts, Larimer became an ambassador of sorts for amateur radio. When kids at the Special Olympics events ask him about his radios, he makes time to let them send messages over the network. “I tell them what to say, and they deliver the report. Getting to talk on the radio just makes their day. The feeling I get from that just can’t be beat,” he said.

Larimer volunteers for approximately 40 events every year. His efforts have brought him a great deal of recognition. In September 2019, the Amateur Radio Relay League, the national amateur radio organization, appointed him the emergency communications coordinator for the City of Fredericksburg.

His work with the Marine Corps Half led to an opportunity to work the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, D.C., which is a daunting effort that requires coordinating with a multitude of agencies. “It’s on the scale of a mass causality event,” Larimer said. “We operate with over 100 volunteers on 20 different frequencies through three primary networks to provide updates and pertinent information throughout the event.”

There’s a special pride that Larimer takes in working on the front lines of communications for these running events. “There have been instances of a life-threatening emergency when our communication networks were integral to delivering medical attention in a timely fashion,” he said. “I have a lot of fun volunteering, but this is why I’m really doing this.”

For his significant contribution through volunteer communications service to his community, Larimer received the NSWCDD Distinguished Community Service Award at the NSWCDD Honorary Awards ceremony on March 10 at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center.