Things Have Changed…Yet Remained the Same

By Rear Adm. David Boone, Director Shore Readiness Division (OPNAV N46)

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Retirement is upon me – April 12th, 2013. But it seems like only yesterday…I  graduated from college and was on a plane to Rota, Spain, to join NMCB 40 on deployment. That was 30 years ago, and how things have changed and yet remained the same.

I was convinced that this was going to be a four-year hitch – get some experience, see the world, then get out and do something else. But somewhere in my first tour as a Seabee, I made a mental transition on who I was – from engineer to naval officer. I began to understand core values before those words were even coined. I found purpose and loyalty and honor in a profession that I have loved for 30 years – through good days and bad. I have traveled the world, endeavored in tough projects and seen our government operate at the highest levels.  I have had the most amazing shipmates – CEC officers, Seabees, civilians and contractors whom I have laughed with and cried with – all who have taught me, guided me and mentored me. I joined the Navy to learn a profession – I leave the Navy having learned about myself. It has been the most gratifying of all endeavors – I could not have asked for anything more.

I depart the Navy with the highest caliber of people who serve in our Navy. I am exceptionally proud of you all, the skills that you bring as a community and your dedication to mission accomplishment and to each other. There is no other community in our Navy that embraces its own people like we do – and it will be one of the things that I miss the most and one of the things that carry you forward in turbulent times.

Looking ahead, we will need our best and brightest to contend with the challenges ahead.  We are in a battle for resources and the trends are clearly downward.  It’s a topic of discussion in every professional and social forum I attend these days.  And yet, I have remained sanguine about this turn of events.  When I was a lieutenant, we were going through a downturn in resources following the Cold War, and a former Chief, Rear Adm. Mike Marschall told me, “We did it after WWII, after Korea, after Vietnam – what makes you think you are going through a unique phase in our history?”  It was advice I have always hung onto.  And the Chief was right – we are going through it now, and the country and our Navy will cycle back

So as we contend with fiscal austerity, insure you fall back on your principles.  We, as a community, need to insure that we know who we are and what our core values are. So regardless of what our size is, we still need to adhere to and develop and train to the capabilities that we value. Then with those core competencies, remain able to surge when the time comes that the country needs us to expand. This applies to us across our community – in our operating units, our facility organizations and to us as individuals.

We are first and foremost Warfighters. Expeditionary Warfighters. When I first joined the Navy in the Cold War, we were thought of as “support.” Back then, we didn’t even wear SCWS pins – we weren’t thought of as Warriors. No more.

Over the last 10 years, there is not a Navy community more engaged in warfighting capability than ours.  Continue to engage as Warfighters. But with that comes responsibility. You must also think and operate as a Warfighter which will force you to engage on and understand operational issues and not just pipe up on facility challenges.  Be proud of your SCWS pin – Be the Warrior!

And lastly, for each of you as individuals, continue to develop your own portfolios to be competitive for promotion and prepare you for post-Navy life. The beauty of it is that those skills directly transferable to the outside when you make the transition. But I would also challenge you to go beyond our traditional training tracks. The world is changing and you will have to remain agile and fluid in an ever-changing global environment. There are lots of training and experiential opportunities out there to pursue, and I have been fortunate to have had many experiences that expanded my view of the Navy and the world.

I am excited about my transition and the opportunities that await. I am also incredibly grateful to you – all my shipmates, past and present – with whom I have been so fortunate to have shared part of this Navy life.  Deployed to the far corners of this earth, under the Arctic ice cap, in remote villages in Haiti, on a dusty road in Djibouti, in the White House or at the Pentagon – you have made my Navy life experience an incredible journey.  I thank you and wish you all the very best. I’ll soon be cheering from the sidelines. Godspeed.


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