Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Honoring a Blackhawk

I wrote this follow-up to my Commanding Officer for one of my Sailors today. He's turning over command of the squadron later this month and asked for inputs on who to recognize in his speech. I love this format because, unlike typical military honors, I don't have to meet any formatting criteria and it has a very specific audience. I wish I could write like this about my Sailors all the time.

I wanted to clarify my earlier comments. SK2 X isn't simply the best Sailor in my division, he's one of the best in your Command. It's his ingenuity and diligence that finds the hypoteneuse between 35 tons of dead parts and a soaring Blackhawk.

As a Supply Petty Officer he's certainly stage crew, a behind-the-scenes player. But in bicycle racing we have a term for guys like SK2 X, a domestique. The term originally comes from the Tour de France and it refers to a teammate who carries water and food, blocks the wind, chases down attacks and paces the hills for his team captain; a domestique will even offer his wheel or his entire bike for the team win.

SK2 X embodies this ethic completely. Except that he's offered us something far more precious than a bicycle. He's given us his labor, his time, his intellect and his careful concern, freely, vigorously.

This Command is greater, as is this Navy due to the efforts of SK2 X. Our systems are not perfect and it takes an artisan heart and an engineer mind to massage from them everything we need and leave these systems healthier from the transaction. He's like that mysterious Mexican caballero who can ride a horse at a dead run for a thousand miles--he draws from his fellow Sailors good work and good results and leaves them stronger for it.

Sir, you have in SK2 X a clever SK, a steady shipmate and a fine Sailor. Were he any more a Blackhawk, Sir, he'd have wings.

Ltjg Zak Hardage