Retirement Speech

Distinguished guests, fellow Marines, family and friends: Thank you for honoring us with your presence on this occasion.

I joined this merry band 40 years ago. I grew to adulthood in the Marine Corps and I have been privileged to grow grey in service to my country and Corps.

I have served under great leaders and I have led great Marines. In war and peace; in good times and bad, it has been my incredible honor to serve side by side with selfless men and women who cared more about Corps and Country than they did about themselves.

Together, with these magnificent Marines, I have been to places many have never heard of, and accomplished things I would not have thought possible. I have lived my dream.

Now, it's time for me to drop my pack and let younger men and women shoulder the load. As my good friend Dan Shy once said, "This is the day that I hoped would never come."

We don't choose to join the Marine Corps; we are born to do so.

For those of us who claim the title, the Corps is our calling. We are driven by something we don't understand, something almost genetic, to be Marines. We don't choose to join the Marine Corps; we are born to do so. It is programmed into our DNA. We are a "Band of Brothers" because we share this "Genetic Material," this Marine Corps Gene. We are brothers and sisters just as surely as if we shared the same parents. Our Corps is a family.

It is especially painful to watch the family go in harm's way while I retire to my dotage. So, like Polonius, I have some parting thoughts.

To the leaders I leave behind, remember that your Marines are family. Teach them the family traditions... who we are; what we have done; what makes us different. Communicate. Make sure they get the word. Be open to their ideas. Treat them with respect. Help them to grow into the Marines they want to be.

To the Junior Marines who are the future of our Corps, I urge you to be true to that Marine Corps Gene. It marks you as one who has been chosen to defend our nation's ideals and freedoms against the forces of chaos and evil. This is what you have been born to do; embrace your calling.

To all Marines I leave behind, remember that we are family; our strength lies in teamwork more than individual achievements. Allow no wedge to be driven between you and your fellow Marines. Black or white; male or female; active or reserve... we are all Marines. What we share in common goes deeper than any superficial differences.

To those who went before me, led me and mentored me, thank you for showing me how to be faithful to my Marine Gene. Your inspiration and guidance were my motivation and compass. I hope that I was able to live up to the standard you set for me.

And to my family and especially my wonderful wife, Cindy, thank you for understanding. And thank you for enduring. And thank you for helping me in so many ways that few ever saw. No matter how great the sacrifice, you always supported me and encouraged me to remain faithful to that Marine Corps Gene. Any success that I enjoyed or any good I may have done was made possible by you. I love you very much.

Finally, please believe me when I say this time we spend in the Marine Corps is as good as it gets. Make the most of it. Accept every challenge; seek out every adventure. When your time in the Corps is done and you reflect on your memories, be sure that you have made them good ones.

Semper Fi. I'll see you at the ball.