Good Evening :
VADM and Mrs. Miller, CAPT and Mrs. Clark, Chaplain and Mrs. Carter, Distinguished guests, and the Link in the Chain Classes of 1963 and 2013!!
A serious question before we begin>>. Who ate the most cannon balls???? Legend has it that a 1961 football player, Ron Erchul an All-American tackle ate 12 cannonballs at one sitting just to prove that it could be done.
Talking to some of you in Smoke Hall and seeing smiling faces, it appears that most of you are pleased at your Service Selections status. This is another milestone to the pinnacle of throwing your caps in the air 24 May 2013 and beginning your service in the fleet.
When asked to be the guest Speaker at Service Selection Dinner, my first reaction was, why me? Your class officers replied that you wanted to hear from a speaker who balanced his Naval and civilian careers and is currently giving back to the Academy his time, efforts and personal resources while coordinating the ALITC program and serving as a Trustee in the Athletic and Scholarship Foundation that provides the funding for our future scholar-athletes. In accepting your Class request, I am deeply humbled and honored.
Why do we senior grads come back to a place that we had mixed feelings about while we were struggling so much to just survive and graduate. Putting Bancroft Hall in the rear view mirror after graduation was our number one goal, but somehow the years pass and the lessons learned at the Academy take hold and real world applications of oneŐs individual moral, mental, and physical growth ingrained here manifest themselves. The place we all disliked becomes a special place ------ and not a big Midshipmen vacuum chamber contained in the Yard.
Tonight should be one of celebration and satisfaction that your career path is a little clearer. For those who did not get their first choice, reexamine and readjust your personal goals. I know that you will do your very best in a career path that may turn out to be the perfect fit for your skill set. With every assignment comes a great opportunity to lead and serve to achieve your Service SelectionŐs mission.
Now back to the reason I was asked to speak this evening. All of you will eventually face the meaning of transitioning from the Navy and Marine Corps to Civilian life. Sooner or later it comes to all of us as we take off our uniforms for the last time. One of the advantages of the ALITC, we the senior class offer you is a future mirror as to where you will be in 50 years. If you do not like what you see in 1963, plan on an early facelift! We all faced the prospects of transitioning, but survived the journey.
Upon reflecting on the transitioning request, I saw an opportunity to lend some insights on the differences and similarities between wearing Service Dress Blues and a Brooks Brothers Blazer.
In the military, authority comes with rank and the regulations are understood, but in civilian life, as in military service, true authority and respect has to be earned through demonstrated competence, but in civilian life the rules are often fuzzy. The Navy and Marine Corps allows young junior officers to play with very expensive toys unlike most young college graduates. Heavy responsibilities for the ship, aircraft, and unit will be yours along with the safety and well -being for all entrusted to your leadership and care.
My first civilian job after Vietnam was as a Team Manager of four hourly employees for Proctor and GambleŐs Charmin Paper Division. Can you imagine the readjustment from my last tour of duty as Officer in Charge of a Naval Support Detachment in a combat zone? What sticker shock from being NavyŐs QB squeezing a football and now squeezing Charmin toilet tissue. The Pampers diapers and Charmin toilet tissue were not my idea of learning the business from the bottom up.
The not so hidden agenda was Ňhow does four years at Severn Finishing School prepare 2013 graduates once they are faced with transitioningÓ
LetŐs examine your capability to compete in the civilian world.
First and foremost, to be accepted at USNA, you are in fine company, only a 5% acceptance rate. This place is highly selective, you are the best of the best. Remember, there is a fine line between self-confidence and cockiness.
Unlike university life, the Academy mission and your mission is to develop you mentally, morally and physically.
The Academy pushes you to the limits beyond your own expectations. Time management is a developed skill trait whereby you have learned to balance 22 credit hours, varsity or intramural sports, military training and other demands in a four year challenge.
You graduate in four years and have a STEM background that allows for the firehose learning of technical matters rather than the garden hose variety of most universities whether you are on active duty or have transitioned to a civilian job.
Decision making, problem solving, discipline, communication skills, high morals and ethics are not emphasized at other colleges. Companies want to hire USNA grads because they are quick learners that can think under pressure and can adapt readily within their culture.
In fact, James Kinnear, class of 1950, a Distinguished Graduate, also a retired CEO of Texaco, has endowed the Kinnear Science Chair for high level training for professors to pursue research. Mr. KinnearŐs own words state volumesÓ I rate academy graduates quite high as solvers of crucial problems. And I want to help them become even betterÓ. Your ethical standards and focus on mission achievement are well recognized and very attractive to future employers.
A couple of key points: 1) When interviewing for a position, ask the same business and cultural norm questions to your boss and his boss. If you get different answers, think twice before accepting. Bosses do not change tours as in the military.2) Unlike salty chiefs and ornery gunny sergeants, longtime employees guard information as their know- how is job security. 3)Do not be misled by people who are always busy and tell you how hard they work. Judge by results and measure output, not input. 4) the most important advice is the simplest, remember the five PŐs of life- Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance!
From afar, older Grads like 1963 look at the changes that have occurred to USNA that involved gender, demographics, diversity, physical hazing, curriculum, liberty and cyber threats to name only a few. The changes have been a common theme at tailgates and reunions by old grads who view the Academy from 20,000 feet. Once, we avoid the macro view and truly examine the evolving necessary changes, the Academy still has the core values and provides the finest education and training for future Naval and Marine Officers and for future success in any walk of life upon leaving the Naval Service whether at the five year mark or after thirty years of service.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Data points from 1994,1996, 2000, and 2001 Grads confirm that the Academy retains itŐs core values . It still is the best place to be from, lives on! The Midshipmen today are consistent in their quality values as they were 50 years ago. The retiring crew coach, Rick Clothier recently confirmed that the graduates he has coached over the past 38 years are of high moral character and have not declined during his tenure. The core values of honor, courage, commitment, and quality in all you do are who you now are and will remain with you for the rest of your lives.
There are some academics who criticize our admission policies, but the true metric should be in the caliber of the finished products of Ensigns and Second Lieutenants entering the Fleet. There is another example of measuring efficiency ,whereby output so far exceeds input.
Some Key Takeaways:
á Ethical Leadership-Honor Code Objective truth is in decline in our society. People make personal choices without regard to right or wrong, which makes their personal choice the new standard, You know which decision to make- which path to take
á Prestigious Education – 65% Stem courses, loads of 20+credit hours
á Athletic Excellence -33 intercollegiate sports with only Ohio State, Stanford having more. 70% winning percentage. 1300 0f 4000 Brigade in varsity sports
All are results of the mission to develop morally, mentally and physically and these character traits will set you apart from the competition.
The last missing piece of this analysis is right in front of you. Your classmates and your interaction will resonate for years and continue to grow over your lifetime. Being an alumnus or alumna from USNA places you in a small but unique society of only 55,000 living graduates. Your classmates and your maturation in your Naval and Civilian careers will eventually vector you back to this special place where you all began.
The large mega universities like Michigan and Ohio State have 50,000 grads every two years and they have little classmate recognition.
The ALITC program provides a medium of connecting current Midshipmen with graduates 50 years their senior in a manner that the Executive Department cannot do. The program allows you to look at the future through our experience and guage your own future course to some degree. It allows the seniors to learn of the changes in their beloved Academy and know the Navy and Marine Corps is in good hands. As we approach our 50th Reunion in October 2013, we look forward to presenting our Legacy Gift to VADM Miller. Our gift will enable the 1963 Center for Academic Excellence to support the Brigade who may need special help through the rigors of academic courses.
The Bond developed between 1963-2013 will continue to nurture as our 1963 Tailgate will always be 2013 Ôs tailgate. We welcome you at our tailgates in your early post- graduation years and we will hopefully visit what will be your tailgate provided we can navigate our way. Like the values you take from here into the fleet and future endeavors, we will continue to be with you in the years ahead. We wish you all ŇFair winds and following seasÓ in all that life has in store for you.
Thank you for your attention. Now letŐs celebrate in Dahlgren Hall
BEAT ARMY !!!!!