Before I begin, i would be remiss if I did not pause to thank my family first. Gina, the love of my life, the love I have for you is more that I will ever be able to put into words. You have been there for the highs, the lows, the tough and the easy. You have supported everything I have set out to do during my career, both in and out of the Coast Guard. You stuck with me during times where I am sure you had every right not to be there when I got home. You have helped me when I was down, and took care of the kids and the house when I was out to sea. You have sacrificed your time, your passions, and more over, you have sacrificed your life for mine, and there is no greater Love than to lay your life down for your friends. With that said, you are my best friend, my wife, my love and my passion. If you were not here to share life with me, it would not be worth doing. It is your turn sweetie for all of my attention and time, and I am sure you will have more of me than you proabably want for the next few months.
For my children, I love you guys, you are all so awesome talented, sweet and smart. You bring life and light into our house on the darkest of days, and can make me smile when I am in the worst of moods. You have seen me at my worst and at my best, you have bald cabbage patch dolls named after me, memories of skiing on top of the world with me, and art work you have created which has been tattooed on my skin, all of these things will always be a part of me. You guys are the light in our house, the joy we have when we are together is immeasurable. So thank you, and may God bless each one of you in His special way.
Roger, my friend, Happy Birthday to you, and thank you and LeAnn for taking the time to help with my retirement and being here to support me. It means alot to me. And while I look about the room and see my family, my dad, my sister, my friends and co-workers, I need to take the time to thank each of you for the support, Love and discipline you have shown towards me, molding me into the man I am today. You have all palyed a part and I thank you for that.
While I am approaching retirement from the Coast Guard, and NOT wishing to leave any sort of legacy, I would like to make sure others are prepared to the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.
All I ask of you and others coming in behind me is to put God first in your lives, by doing this everything else will be given to you with not only a more meaningful purpose, but with an overwhelming sense of caring and love. The men and women of the Coast Guard have been my family for the better part of 23 years, and I want you to know that God’s love will sustain you better than any satisfaction you might get from your career. I love my Coast Guard family, but we need to be strong enough to humble ourselves in the midst of others, admit our mistakes, and learn to take advice from those who may not be as seasoned as we are at times. A bit of homility goes a long way, especially when others are looking to you for the answers, be the example. I am not asking you to be a doormat, but rather strong minded yet yielding when necessary.
Family comes to mind when retirement approaches. Take time out for your family, and love them for the support they have given you. They are the backbone of most of us, and will be there when the Coast Guard is long gone in your rearview mirror. I remember when going through Chief’s Call To Initiation (CCTI), and the letters that our spouses wrote that we had to read in front of our peers, I could only weep in the love and support of such a great family that was backing me, and had made such unbelievable sacrifices in order for me to do the Coast Guard’s business.
As a man who spent the better part of his life without having put God first, I made the mistake of pouring my soul into things that were shallow, only to find that they were all temporary and held no eternal value. The promise of eternity is more than a whim, or words in a great book. Eternity is forever a place reserved for those who Love God, and put Him on the pedestal that can only be His. Too many times (me incuded) we put idols in His place, be it our careers, our comforts, our addictions, our music, our lusts or wants, or our needs. They seem to take the place reserved for the King of Kings. Put God back on the throine to which he belongs. You will not regret it.
In closing I want to thank you my friends and family for the memories, support, good times, and hard times of the last 23 years. Without you, family, and especially the Love and mercy from God, I would never have made it this far.
1 Corinthians 13 speaks of this Love:
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, it profits me nothing.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; 6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8 Love never fails
May God bless each of you and your families, as we part ways. Remember to be truthful to yourself, accepting of others, and pursue God in yourtravels. Fair winds and following seas. Shalom, peace be with each of you.