Sunday, July 24, 2011

Retirement Ceremony for an old Shipmate

My Navy trails get colder and colder, but they are not frozen, yet. It is going on four years since I retired from the Navy and most of the people I knew well have also retired and made the transition to civilian life. There are still a few of my shipmates out there serving, but that list just got shorter. My friend and shipmate, Lieutenant Commander Roy Kiddy, USN, had his retirement ceremony on Friday, 22 July, 2011, and I had the pleasure to be a part of it.

From July 24, 2011

I served with Roy from 1999-2001 aboard the USS JOHN C STENNIS (CVN 74), a NIMITZ class nuclear powered aircraft carrier. The ship was then homeported in San Diego. Roy and I served in the Engineering Department and we made a deployment to the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Gulf together. We experienced a lot during that cruise and we remained in touch after I left the ship. About two months ago, Roy's wife Mary sent out a "Save the Date" e-mail telling us that Roy was going to have a retirement ceremony on 22 July. Deirdre and I checked our calendars and we definitely saved the date. A few weeks after Mary's e-mail. Roy called me and asked if I would be the guest speaker at his retirement ceremony. I immediately accepted his request. Deirdre also planned on bringing her cameras and "glass" for the event and serve as the photographer. All of the images in this post are courtesy of Deirdre and her amazing photographic abilities.

There are few ceremonies in the Navy that invoke as much pride, and sometimes tears as a retirement ceremony. In order to be eligible to retire from the Navy (or any of the U.S. Armed Services), you have to serve at least 20 years. You have to dedicate your life to the Nation, frequently putting the needs of your service and the country ahead of your needs. For twenty seven years, Roy did just that. To be asked to speak at the ceremony ending his career was a responsibility I did not take lightly. I spent a few weeks mulling over what I would say and in the end, my speech was a little more than 4 minutes long. The people gathered for the ceremony were there to say goodbye to Roy, not to listen to me.

Roy's last duty station was on the staff of Commander, Naval Air Forces, Atlantic Fleet (AIRLANT), where he was the Quality Assurance Officer for the Nuclear Propulsion department. All of the Navy's aircraft (CVNs) are powered by nuclear reactors, and Roy's job was to help each of the CVNs maintain their readiness for underway operations. AIRLANT is located in Norfolk, VA, so Deirdre and I booked our tickets to fly there on Thursday, 21 July.

Our flights to Norfolk were uneventful, but as luck would have it, Roy picked the hottest weekend of the year for his retirement ceremony. When we arrived in Norfolk on Thursday afternoon, the temps were in the low 90s with a heat index of 100F. On Friday, the air temperature was 101-102F and the heat index was 109-115F. Needless to say, it was a bit stuffy in Norfolk!

Roy's ceremony was held at the Norfolk Rook at the Sewell's Point Golf Club (it is a Navy owned course a few miles from Naval Station Norfolk). Thankfully, the Norfolk Room was air conditioned. Roy's friends and family gathered for the ceremony, which began promptly at 1300 (1PM for you civilians out there).

The ceremony went off without a hitch, and Roy was able to see the impact he made on the lives and careers of the Sailors he served with during his twenty seven years of dedicated military service. It was an fitting tribute to recognize all that Roy did for the Navy and the Nation.

Here is a photo of me, Roy and a close friend of the family who delivered the Invocation and the Benediction during the ceremony:

Here is an image of Roy, his wife Mary and his mother Marilyn:

Here is an image of Roy, Marilyn, and his brothers Duane (who was a Navy Chief Petty Officer) and Randy (who is currently on active duty as a Sergeant in the Army):

This image of Mary and Roy sort of sums up the weekend:

It was truly an honor and a privilege to be a part of Roy's retirement ceremony. Fair winds and following seas, shipmate!

Following the ceremony, Deirdre and made a quick stop at the Norfolk Navy Exchange to buy some sunglasses and a few other items. I had not set foot aboard a Naval Station in almost two years. It was nice to put on a uniform again and feel like I was a part of the Navy again.

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