I’ve had so many farewells, see you next times, and goodbyes in my career. But none quite like this.
This has been the most tumultuous year. Between being rediagnosed with cancer at ECRC, two surgeries and as many biopsies, a bystander-reported unrestricted SAPR case that tested my own moral code, paying $56,000 out of pocket to deploy, and parenting from 7,000 miles away, to understand toughness and resiliency is an understatement.
This tour tested my mettle. This tour made me question being an officer, a Navy reservist, and a PAO. This tour made me ask “at what cost”? This tour showed me the best and the worst leadership from multiple military communities and strengthened my resolve to be different—to set a higher standard of what taking care of your Sailors and Marines looks like. This tour brought me joy and friendship and belonging.
I learned that my career is not worth being silent.
I learned that the best way to bring people together is over parmesean bread and a warm saucy dinner.
I learned just how hard journalists work to disseminate news from the Gulf.
I learned which leadership traits to emulate, and which toxic management traits to specifically avoid.
I learned about Islam and how bad actors influence an entire world’s perception of a peaceful religion.
I learned to be more committed to my fellow deployed warfighters.
I learned how to work in an integrated Navy and Marine Corps command with some of the best leadership in the Corps, and the importance of understanding our sister service.
To my fellow deployers, you’re not alone, and I’m happy to support you however I can.
To Navy reservists who are struggling with pay issues, I am an advocate for you.
To anyone involved in a sexual assault case, I believe you and I am here to listen to you, support you, and provide you with resources.
To those who reached out, thank you.
To TF 51/5 leadership, Marines, and Sailors, you’re the best of the best. Thank you for the opportunity to serve alongside you. Thank you for shifting my perspective. Thank you for your support. Simply: thank you.
To the TF 51/5 friends who have become family, keep finding the misfits and bring them to our island. Take care of each other.
To my family, thank you for your unwavering support; I can’t wait to come home to you.
To my Trenton James Andrew, zero more sleepies!!!