One of the aspects that I truly love about being a United States Navy Sailor is the common sense of duty. All hands motivated all the time to uphold the Navy core values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment! Ok ok… so reality isn’t truly every Sailor at every moment (myself included), but let’s just say that no school, no club, nor organization has ever quite moved my mind, body, and soul the way the Navy has over these short few years.
That said, while I enjoy the work I do each day both taking care of bad guys and seeing to it that my Sailors are equipped to do the same, there are a few events that really highlight my Navy experience. This past Friday I had the pleasure of experiencing two of those events in the same day.
After 20+ years (30 in this individual’s career) of dutiful service to their country, the United States of America, military members are authorized to retire from active service. The ceremonies are typically steeped in Naval tradition from the boatswain’s pipe, to the arrival of the official party, to the honor guard posting the colors, to the invocation, all the way to the special guest speakers, honoring the Sailor’s career as well as family members, to the recitation of “The Watch”, and the ringing ashore of the retired member and family… I love every moment of it.
I love hearing the Sea Stories from both friends of the retiring Sailor and from the Sailor him/herself. I love hearing the accolades and appreciation for the family for the often out of sight, sometimes thankless job that they perform for the duration of their loved one’s career. And I love knowing that this person enjoyed serving their Sailors and their country, giving it their youth and often innocence.
If you have not been to a military retirement, simply stated, you should. If your only exposure to the Military is what you have seen on TV or the big screen, it will humanize the whole concept of an all-volunteer-military. It does for me, each and every time.
On nearly the complete opposite side of the spectrum we find re-enlistments. During a re-enlistment, an enlisted Sailor is discharged from the Navy, given a (sarcastic) few short moments to say some words to all his/her Shipmates present as a civilian before being brought back into the Navy, and then as stated, brought back into the Navy by reciting the Oath of Enlistment administered by any commissioned Officer.
This particular re-enlistment was my Chief, the enlisted leader of my division of Sailors. He is one of the good ones. He handled his re-enlistment with poise and as a great enlisted leader should, demonstrating through his example, what re-enlistments are all about. The Chief expressed his thanks for everyone attending, especially the Sailors of his division and his Wife and child. He stated that events like these are (just as retirements) more for the family and those who support the Sailor than they are for the actual Sailor re-enlisting. He made sure everyone knew how the choice to re-enlist for his family was an easy decision. He and his family loved the Navy, loved the life it provided for them, and loved the Sailors they was able to lead.
I personally love re-enlistments because it is affirmation that people love the work they do (and well yeah in some cases love the idea of a big check…). I also love being the re-enlisting Officer when the opportunity arises. And love attending as a guest as I was in this particular re-enlistment. Seeing my Sailors proud of being a United States Sailor and being excited about continuing their service makes me proud to be a leader.
Witnessing both a retirement and a re-enlistment, the honorable end of one man’s career and the honorable continuation of another’s … all in the same day … I’m sure it would make you sentimental as well! Anyway, just another FINE NAVY DAY!