A couple of weeks ago, our good friend Chuck retired after 30 years in the navy. It was a really nice ceremony all the way through, but the best part came at the end. One of his fellow master chiefs stood up to read The Watch (as you do). It’s sentimental to begin with, but for the most part, it’s like listening to the readings by family members at a wedding. The readings are nice, and the words are heartfelt (you hope), but you’ve heard them before.
The master chief was introduced, but she bowed out, saying someone more appropriate was going to read it. Chuck’s son, a brand new seaman apprentice, two weeks out of boot camp, appeared from behind the enormous American flag hanging from the ceiling. Chuck was taken completely by surprise and choked up immediately. Cody began to read.
The Watch (with minor adjustments made by Chuck):
For thirty years, this shipmate has stood the watch.
While some of us were in our racks at night, this shipmate stood the watch.
While some of us were in school learning our trade, this shipmate stood the watch.
Yes, even before some of us were born into this world, this shipmate stood the watch.
In these many years as war has been waged against us, and as our nation sacrifices blood and treasure, this shipmate stood the watch.
Many times he would cast an eye ashore and see his family standing there, needing his help during those hard times, and yet he stood the watch.
For thirty years, he stood the watch so that we, our families, and our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly in safety each and every night, knowing that a sailor stood the watch.
Today we are here to say, “Command Master Chief, the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided, and led. Shipmate, you stand relieved. We have the watch.”
Now read those last couple of sentence again, with one minor adjustment, knowing that Cody is his father’s son.
“Command Master Chief, the watch stands relieved, relieved by those you have trained, guided, and led. Shipmate, you stand relieved.” Then he paused, looked up at his dad, and said, “Dad, I have the watch.”
There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. In fact, I’m tearing up just thinking about it. That kid’s good.