Wednesday, May 7, 2008

To my Sailors...

"If you care to do so, you can do something for me. That is take care of each other. Be honorable. Do what is right. Forgive when it makes sense, punish when you must, but always work to make the latter unnecessary by working to help people be all they really can and should be. My idea of one-on-one leadership really will work if you let it and honestly apply it. We have great leaders, and I know you'll succeed."

"Finally, for those who want to tear our Navy down, I guess I've given them plenty to write about for a while. But I will soon be forgotten. You, our great Navy people, will live on. I am proud of you. I am proud to have led you if only for a short time. I wish I had done it better.''

Admiral Mike Boorda, former Chief of Naval Operations

Admiral Boorda shot himself in the chest on 16 May 1996, my 40th birthday, while I was home on leave from COMSEVENTHFLT embarked in USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) forward deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. When I got the news shortly after 2pm that day, I was overcome by grief. I will never forget him or the day it happened. More than a year before his suicide, he had visited the Blue Ridge and got the Chiefs and Sailors all fired up over the Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) program. After his visit, the ship put on a full court press to get all the Sailors qualified ASAP. 1/2 of my First Class Petty Officers were assigned Extra Military Instruction (EMI) for being delinquent in their qualifications. In 1994-1995 I met Admiral Boorda many times while I was the Flag Aide to the Commander, Naval Security Group Command. Small in stature, the man was a GIANT among Sailors. I loved hearing him speak. I always thought he was talking to me personally. The Sailors loved him - every one of them. And with good reason, he was someone who loved them back. His suicide was a TRAGEDY for our Navy.

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