I haven't made the time to post for almost a month now, as I have instead been making the time for other things. Of all the wonderful things I have enjoyed over the past month, by far the most significant was the NIOC Pensacola Change of Command Ceremony held on 01 JUL 2010 in the Naval Aviation Museum. There are many things worth sharing about the day, among them is who was in the audience.
For months, I had been downplaying the ceremony and encouraging loved ones not to come. I did so for a couple of reasons. First, I don't enjoy being the center of attention nor do I want to give the impression that anything in life is about me. Second, the ceremony is traditionally more about the outgoing commanding officer and celebrating the accomplishments of the command under his/her leadership. It wasn't until late in the game when I came to grips with the significance of the day and the importance of having a few especially meaningful people to share it with. I was grateful my parents, in-laws, friends from The Naval Academy and past duty stations, as well as valued mentors chose to disregard my original wishes and made rather significant sacrifices to be there for me...just as they always have. Looking back on it, there were a few others I wish could have been there, but I know they were there in spirit.
During the entire ceremony, I was observing the audience, smiling continuously and doing my best to take it all in. Once I saluted VADM Barry McCullough, officially relieving Captain Frank Shaul, I took the podium and did my best to control my excitement. After telling the audience how much I was looking forward to that very moment, I paused to relish it before sharing the following words:
"Admiral McCullough, Family, Friends and Mentors, thank you very much for making the time to be a part of this special day. Many of you made significant sacrifices to be here today (traveling from TN, TX, MD, NY and CA among other distant lands) to show your support FOR me, but my hope is that you leave here knowing that I realize I am here BECAUSE of you and how much I appreciate each and every one of you. It is the deliberate interest you have taken in my personal and professional development over the years that has given the Navy reason to provide me with the honor of standing before you today. I am grateful for and humble by your choice to share in this day, as it is special for a number of reasons.
Captain Shaul, congratulations on a successful tour and I thank you for turning over such a qualified, passionate and cohesive team. Speaking of the team, will the Total Force NIOC Pensacola Team past and present, including any family members, please rise to be recognized.
To the NIOC Pensacola team - Though it is likely not all that obvious from your current vantage point, make no mistake, the purpose of this ceremony is to celebrate YOU…YOU as individuals and as a team. This ceremony as well as the long, enjoyable and safe holiday weekend before us, provides us with a strategic pause and affords us an opportunity for reflection. While we reflect upon our nation's birth and the significant challenges we as a country continue to overcome, please make the time to celebrate the milestones closer to home. Think about how YOU have contributed to the lives of fellow Shipmates, how YOU have contributed to command mission accomplishment and how YOU have grown thus far in YOUR Navy adventure. For on Tuesday, WE will cease the admiration of our wake and will instead begin collaboratively charting OUR course.
Today is about YOU and more importantly it is about US. Enjoy the long weekend, be safe and just like everything worth doing in life, make it meaningful!"
It was a day I will never forget for many reasons. The biggest reason being that it marked my beginning as a member of the NIOC Pensacola Team. Never before have I been a part of a team that is more aligned with my personal philosophies and never before have I observed a team that has contributed so much unbeknownst to so many. This command is very good and as we become great it will have little to do with the guy wearing the command pin and everything to do with the rest of the team. For at NIOC Pensacola, no one works FOR anyone, we work WITH each other.