My Farewell to the Navy
This piece was intended to be given as a speech at my discharge ceremony from the US Navy in July of 2020. However, thanks to the pandemic, I didn’t receive the honor of such a ceremony. Instead, I was handed a piece of paper releasing me from duty and let go.
But with so many words and thoughts in my head regardless, I posted this on my Facebook and Instagram. I’m reposting it here.
Today is the end of my career in the United States Navy.
After 8 years, 6 months, and 7 days of service to our nation, it is time for me to say goodbye.
[If you didn’t expect me to wax poetic about my time in service for +700 words then you don’t know me and should leave now.]
And it is incredibly bittersweet. While I’ve thought for quite a long time to find better words to describe the thoughts and feelings I possess as I gaze inward at the end of this journey, at the sun setting on the horizon…I sadly cannot. It all feels so incredibly and impossibly bittersweet.
From boot camp at RTC Great Lakes, A-School at NAS Pensacola, to the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower, then to the end at Naval Base Kitsap, it has been an odyssey. An odyssey of trial and error, tough and desperately long days, new experiences, breathtaking views and locales, heartbreak, sadness, happiness and joy.
I have spent so much of today reflecting on this journey, thinking about all of the faces of the people who I’ve had the privilege to meet and serve beside, the stories of the people who serve, their dreams and aspirations. I pride myself on the abnormal life path I’ve taken and you have all been a part of this wondrous story I’ll be able to tell one day.
I will forever miss so many things about life in the Navy: the noise and heat of the flight deck, the feeling of waking up in a brand new port, the feeling of waking up knowing you’re pulling in to homeport after a long underway, getting good food on the mess decks during a chow break, being able to joke with your supervisors, leading Sailors, the traditions, the pageantry, and the history.
While there are many words I want to say in this final day — advice I have for current leaders, experiences I want to share with the next generation, the lessons that I have learned, and the hard-won wisdom I have earned — in the end, there is but only one thing I wish to say:
Thank you to the United States of America, for all its perfections and imperfections, in its structures and history and (especially) in its citizenry, for being a country that I am damn proud to have served. We are imperfect people in an unfinished nation and I am forever proud and thankful of how we continue to fight for our growth.
Thank you to the United States Navy. All the inexactness and strife and need for growth and progress that exists in our country is only magnified in itss armed services and the Navy is no different. It is wonderful timing that I am leaving the Navy on the same day you have announced the newest generation of leaders advancing in rank. Take care of them better than you did me. You have frustrated me, angered me, and humbled me. Thank you for giving me a space to struggle and to flourish.
Thank you to those with whom I have served and those who continue to serve. Thank you to those who were my leaders who shaped me into the person I hope you are proud of today. I cannot, cannot, cannot thank you enough for teaching me to be a better Sailor, a better leader and a better person. I will never forget the lessons and stories you have all shared with me and taught me. You are forever my family and I will always be there for you.
Thank you to my friends. The e-mails, the letters, the care packages, the calls, and everything that got me through tough days in and out to sea cannot be acknowledged enough. I am forever blessed to have you in my life.
Thank you to my family. A family of immigrants. A family of Americans. A family who was so proud to see me serving their country much as our father did in the Philippines.
Thank you to my Mom. My biggest cheerleader. She let her baby boy, the youngest of six, go on four deployments and welcomed him back with tears in her eyes every time he came home. Thank you for my life, for everything.
“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” — Abraham Lincoln
Thank you all for believing in me.
ABE1(AW) Mark G. Dalmacio
Veteran, United States Navy