I posted the following on my Facebook page a few weeks ago. I look forward to the next adventure, and am grateful for the comments I received from friends, classmates, colleagues, and neighbors on the occasion of my retirement from the Navy:
All good things must come to an end. Early next month I will retire from the Navy after twenty-five years, plus an additional three in the Army. It’s been a great career filled with phenomenal people.
I am thankful beyond words to have had the opportunity to serve our country wearing the uniforms of all four services.
Thirty-nine years ago, I started as a cadet at the Air Force Academy, but left after a short time to become a minister. To get there, I went into the Army to get the GI Bill, and found myself flying helicopters with some of the greatest warriors I’ve ever met. Vietnam veterans, they taught me so much that I carried into my later career. These great warriors paid a higher price for our freedoms than most anyone could imagine, and were so humble about teaching things that had become second nature to them but would become critical life skills for me later on down the road.
After an eleven year break in service to attend college and serve in the ministry, I joined the Navy Reserve. Twenty-five years of service with the Naval Air Systems Command, working with some great technology, always pressing the envelope, and learning from some fantastic officers.
I spent four of the past seven years on active duty with the Marine Corps and had the opportunity to serve alongside some of the greatest Americans I’ve ever met, especially in combat in Iraq. There I saw our young Marines answering the nation’s call. I was awed, humbled, and moved to tears by their service and sacrifice.
I am a blessed man to have had such an opportunity to serve this nation. “I am an American, fighting in the forces which guard my country and our way of life. I am prepared to give my life in their defense. I will never forget that I am an American, fighting for freedom, responsible for my actions, and dedicated to the principles which made my country free. I will trust in my God and in the United States of America.” (US Armed Forces Code of Conduct)
To all the warriors who shaped my life and my career, thank you from the bottom of my heart. May the Lord God Almighty bless each and every one of you. Your legacy lives on, for I’ve made it my life’s mission to pass what I learned from you to those who follow in my steps even after I lay down the uniform.
“I wish to have no connection with any ship that does not sail fast; for I intend to go in harm’s way.” (John Paul Jones, US Navy) RIP CAPT Harley H. Hall, USN, missing in action, Quang Tri, Vietnam, 27 JAN 1973, and HM1 Gilbert Minjares, killed in action, Karmah, Iraq, 7 FEB 2007.
Semper Fidelis. (USMC motto) RIP, Lt. Jared Landaker, USMC, killed in action, Karmah, Iraq, 7 FEB 2007, and Lt. Col. Mario Carazo, KIA, Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, 22 JUL 2010.
Brave Rifles. (Regimental motto, 3d Armored Cavalry Regiment, US Army) RIP, SPC John Burch, US Army, my colleague and friend, killed 18 April 1976, and CW3 Warnie B. Anderson, US Army, killed 26 JAN 1982.
“To a friend we send a message of his brother men who fly. We drink to those who gave their all of old.” (The US Air Force Song) RIP, Senior Airman Benjamin D. White, US Air Force, KIA, Sanjin, Afghanistan, 9 JUN 2010, and, to the memory of Captain Lance P. Sijan, US Air Force Academy class of 1965.
His story will make you weep with pride.