Retirement Speech, October 1991
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, shipmates ….. thank you for coming today.
Thirty years, 1 month and 10 days ago I came into the Navy … naked … in a room full of men. I am delighted to be leaving fully clothed.
In the years that followed that traumatic morning, I traveled to some of the most beautiful and exotic places on earth, met some of the best people in the world, and did some of the most challenging and exciting jobs that exist in the universe … all at government expense. I am deeply grateful to the American Taxpayers who made it all possible.
I have enjoyed a tremendous amount of success in that 30 years, but, for that, I can take little credit. That credit goes to those people that taught me, encouraged me, and led me. To them I am deeply indebted. I was forever surrounded by better men than I that spurred me on and caused me to be much, much more than I ever thought I could be. It was they that taught me what was important, to fight for what I believed in, and to leave a place better than I found it. Somewhere along the line, they instilled an outrageous sense of humor in me.
I consider myself extremely fortunate to have been part of the Navy’s Mine Warfare elite. In fact, it was many years before I realized that there was more to the Navy than Mine Warfare. I used to think the first verse in Genesis read, “In the beginning, God created the Mine Force … and advanced Freddy Reid to E-9. And God looked down upon the Mine Force and said “This is good … I will create a Navy to support it.”. Master Chief Reid told me that himself … I was a seaman … I believed him.
I came into the Mine Force at a most exciting time. As I recall, the authorities were still looking for the 5 sailors that pushed the engineers off, hijacked a train, and ran it full speed from Tokyo to Yokosuka. I heard tell that it was the only way these sailors could get back to the base before midnight when liberty expired. Since Japanese trains depend on a rigid schedule to prevent collisions, this caused considerable anguish among the Japanese railroad people. As a result, massive amounts of Shore Patrol, Military Police, and Japanese constabulary were waiting in the station at Yokosuka to capture these bold adventurers. However, God, in His infinite wisdom, caused these sailors to slow the train in Yokohama and get off while allowing the train to continue into Yokosuka at a more leisurely pace. He also provided the taxi that transported the sailors to Naval Base Yokosuka with 10 minutes to spare.
…. Faces in the audience…stories
There are many, many more stories that I have learned and lived. I fully expect to be enthralling my grandchildren well into the next century.
…PRESENT THE GRAY EAGLE TO WILL DIXON…
“Will, you have been a good friend and shipmate. I respect and admire you.”
I thank the people that put this ceremony together. I know how much effort goes into it. I appreciate it.
I want to thank my mother for letting me join the Navy when I was still 17. It was a wise decision. It is because of my mother that I am to begin college this November. She assured me that she would never rest until I had a degree. This, of course, puts me in an uncomfortable position. Should I permit my mother to live forever in a state of unhappiness or should I kill her with an education.
Finally, I want to thank my wife, Dolores, for sticking with me and playing second to a most demanding mistress. I don’t think I could have picked a better helpmate. I am a better man for having been with you.
I leave the Navy today terribly worried and concerned. At the last census, there were 250 million civilians in this country and there doesn’t appear to be anyone in charge. No wonder they all dress funny.
I said that if this lasted longer than 30 minutes, I’d have to get up and leave. It’s pushing that now.
Thank you very much.