I'm retired!

Sort of. 

On May 31st, I gathered with friends and family to celebrate the end of 24 years serving as a Coast Guard officer. 

Now I'm in this ominous sounding period called "terminal leave."  Thankfully it isn't terminal. It just means that I'm taking saved up vacation days and am not going back to my Coast Guard desk again.  My Coast Guard work is complete.  

Today I just want I share some photos and memories from the retirement ceremony.  It was a wonderful celebration with family and friends from all over the country and every unit I'd served.

One of the things that happens during a military retirement is that the retiree receives an official retirement certificate.  It is signed by the Commandant and normally it is presented by the Presiding Officer. But since my Dad made it to the ceremony in his uniform, we decided to have him do it. It was a fitting  bookend for my career, since it was my Dad who gave me my commission back in 1989 after receiving it from President Bush on the stage in New London. 

He also received my final salute, and returned the se silver dollar I gave him back in 1989 after my first salute.   The sound isn't great, but here's a neat video of that part of the ceremony.

When it was my turn to speak, I shared a (too long) series of stories from my career.  I had two simple messages:  

1.  I am grateful for the chance I've had to do what the Coast Guard does. As a pilot, it is an awesome privilege to be an instrument of God's mercy in saving those on distress. 

2.  I am grateful for my family for the many sacrifices they made to allow me to do the work of the Coast Guard. 

That can be further boiled down to, "I thank my family for the sacrifice required for me to be part of the Coast Guard family."

I won't drag you through every story in this post. (You're welcome!). Some friends asked me to post the pictures that I shared as I spoke, so I uploaded a video version to YouTube.

I may share more details later.  But for now, I'll just say it was the single day I was the most grateful to wear the uniform.  I felt so blessed have been able to execute Coast Guard missions from the bridge of a ship, the cockpit of a helicopter, the hangar deck of an Air Station, and behind a desk.  No, I haven't lost my mind.  Many parts of driving a desk at HQ over the past few years has sucked.  But on that day, all I could think from the staff tours was the fantastic group of people I was privileged to lead to deliver the IT systems our operators depend on to do the mission.  That's the way I plan to remember that part of my career:  as a privilege leading people committed to doing everything in their power to deliver tools to the men and women doing the mission.

So what comes next?  The short version is that I'm going to do exactly what I said I would do in my first post this year:  

As I approach my military retirement, much of my energy this year will be used doing stuff related to that event.  But it's no surprise that I'm not really "retiring."  I'll just be filling my time with things other than serving as an active duty military officer.  Once I transition from the military, there will be another purpose I'll fulfill.  I don't know what it will be, but I'm excited to find out.  I will frame this event as a "renewal" rather than a "retirement."  This year I will let go of my role in the Coast Guard, then enjoy some down time to reconnect with my family, then move forward purposefully in a direction that hasn't been revealed to me yet.  I've chosen "Renew" to remind me each day to frame this year as a year for renewal, not retirement.

Now I'm off to enjoy a little down time!

Here are some of my favorite pictures from the ceremony and reception.  Enjoy!