So last week I had the honor of attending the retirement ceremony for combat veteran, Master Sergeant (MSG) Roy Stiles. At a time when I'm still trying to decide what I'm going to be when I grow up, Roy is finishing one career and starting another. There were speeches and awards and pictures taken. MSG Stiles (pictured here with some dopey civilian type), kept his game face on through most of the ceremony, right up until he had to thank his mom for her 'holding her breath' for about 20 years while her son went in harm's way. I think this was really powerful considering MSG Stiles' son has just completed Navy basic training and will soon be going in harm's way himself.
Turns out too that MSG Stiles, now to be known as "Roy" - was an honor grad of just about every training school or class he attended. He did what I'm sure was a brutal tour in Hawaii and of course Germany and by his own choice - Afghanistan, where he served as a First Sergeant (1SG). He also volunteered twice to serve as a Casualty Notification officer. Volunteered to go to Afghanistan. Volunteered to notify families that their loved ones had been lost in service to this nation. Humbling.
Why do I bring all this up? Well first, cause I like to count Roy as a friend and a co-conspirator at work and I told him I'd make him a star. Second, because I know its all cool now to put the "Support the Troops" magnet on the back of the car or to talk about how we can disagree with the politics of whatever war but still support the troops (not insignificant lessons mind you, learned by this country largely on the backs of our Vietnam veterans) but I wanted to make the idea of who we are supporting and the kinds of jobs these people do, just a little more personal.
I also wanted to talk about the qualities of the Non-Commissioned Officers. One speaker at Roy's ceremony described NCO's as "mission focused, smart and they do not whine." Having worked with more than a few NCO's, I can add my personal testimony to that description. Think about what would happen if you advertised those qualities for your next job opening.
So I just really wanted to write this post to say thank you to MSG Stiles for his service and to also say thank you to the other soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who continue to go in harm's way for us and for this country.