ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York Naval Militia honored 25 of its members for outstanding service during a waterfront ceremony featuring three patrol boats at Albany’s Corning Preserve on Tuesday, September 20. Twenty-five members of the state Naval Militia who were assigned to a team reconciling expenses related to the New York National Guard’s two-and-a-half year long COVID-19 response mission were recognized as the best Naval Militia unit.

The Sailors and Marines boarded three Naval Militia patrol boats moored in the Hudson River for the ceremony, including one of two landing craft operated by the service to mark the occasion. Following the recognition ceremony, they were given orientation rides on the three boats.

The New York Naval Militia is a 2,700-member force that allows reserve Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen to also serve the state of New York under the control of Army Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York. Members of these reserve forces can serve simultaneously in the New York Naval Militia. A small number of retired naval service reservists also belong to the Naval Militia.

The Naval Militia, like members of the New York National Guard, responds to state emergencies on state active duty and also operates a 12-boat force known as the Military Emergency Boat Service.

The budget and finance task force was formed in 2020 as the New York National Guard expanded the number of service members responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Large amounts of money were being expended to pay for lodging, meals, rental vehicles, and supplies used by Guard personnel on pandemic response duty.

The full-time staff in the state finance office, which accounts for New York State dollars spent on missions as opposed to federal dollars, was not staffed to handle the additional accounting processes required, according to Robert Martin, the budget office director.

The Naval Militia was asked to mobilize Sailors and Marines in state active duty status to help with the paperwork involved. Over a two-year period, 50 New York Naval Militia members have been part of the response, according to Naval Militia Capt. Dave Hawley, the Naval Militia’s executive officer.

The task force members reconciled $88 million worth of expenses in lodging, catering, purchases, state payroll for state active duty, vehicle rentals, and other expenses, said Katleen Phillips, the deputy director of finance.

They were recognized for their professionalism and the high morale of their task force, according to their citation. The Naval Militia personnel received the Naval Militia’s Josephthal Trophy Award.

The Josephthal Trophy has been presented to Naval Militia units and outstanding individual members since 1929. The trophy is named for Rear Admiral Louis Josephthal, a Naval Militia commander who died in 1929. In his will he left $10,000—worth $173,000 in 2022 dollars—to establish an award for Naval Militia members.