Adm Mies, fellow Submariners, and friends,
I am indeed honored, and humbled, to be recognized alongside so many of our distinguished colleagues. And I am especially honored to be in the company of one of our best, ADM Frank Kelso.
Becky and I have many of our family here tonight. Two of our sons served in the Navy; one son was a member of the clandestine service, and all three of them served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Two of our daughters married naval officers, while one granddaughter graduated from the Naval Academy and served as a surface warfare officer.
We are especially pleased tonight that a grandson, Machinist’s Mate First Class (SS) Patrick Smith, could join us. He is serving in the Gold Crew of USS WYOMING. I would also like to recognize two shipmates and long time friends who are here tonight: Dave Cooper and Mimi; and Sam Ward and Sue.
I just want to make a few key remarks. First, I want to reemphasize what you have heard several times today and what you have heard from myself and others these past couple of years. With the Virginia Class submarine we are building the most capable and deadly attack boats in the world. We have gained a sterling reputation for delivering these submarines early and within or under budget. I congratulate each of you—Navy leadership, shipbuilders, and key contractors—for your dedication and hard work to achieve these goals. We are recognized as the foremost successful program in the entire Defense Department. But I want to remind all of you once again: DON’T rest on your oars or let success become complacency. As RADM Dave Johnson has reminded us: KEEP AND RETAIN YOUR SHARP EDGE.
Second, I want to congratulate each of you who are serving, or have served, in our Submarine Force, the finest group of officers and men—and now women—in the Navy. Tom Clancy, who recently passed away, echoed this praise on many occasions and said, “there are none better”. And let me recognize one other group: our wives and girlfriends who have stood beside us, taken care of family when we were deployed, and greeted us warmly when we returned. They are an integral part of our success, and we salute you.
Finally, NEVER FORGET OUR HERITAGE. We have worked long and hard to attain it. It is incumbent upon each of us to insure it is instilled in our successors.
Thank you again. God Bless our Force and God Bless America.
CAPT Frank Arland Andrews, USN, Ret.
TMSN (SS) Robert “Dex” Armstrong, USN, Ret.
Mr. Robert “Bob” A. Hamilton
CDR Thomas E. Poole, USN, Ret.
ADM Charles R. Larson, USN, Ret.
Mr. Richard D. Llewllyn
CAPT Dave Middleton, USN, Ret.
RADM John Brad Mooney, USN, Ret.
Mr. Joseph F. O’Donnell
Rev. Gilbert V. Wilkes III