Mullen Honors Wife, Sons at Ceremony
By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sept. 30, 2011 As his 40-plus year military career drew to a close today, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen faced an audience including the president, vice president and hundreds of others at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va.
The admiral said for him and his wife, Deborah, the event marked both the end of his four-year stint as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the culmination of 43 years together in the U.S. Navy.
“I walked through Gate One at the Naval Academy in the summer of 1964, took a young, pretty California girl to the Army-Navy game in 1967, famously struggled to graduate a year later and then asked that girl to marry me,” the admiral said.
“Deborah, impossible would it be for me to convey to you the depth of my love or the full measure of my admiration,” Mullen said to his wife at today’s ceremony. “You complete me, in ways I have only recently come to understand.”
Mullen said the father of a Navy SEAL killed on “that horrible day last August” wrote him of his wife’s tenderness and kindness when she grieved with him at Dover Air Force Base.
Like the writer of that letter, the admiral said, he, too, is a proud Navy father.
“My sons, Jack and Michael, serve this nation in uniform -- one in naval aviation, the other in surface warfare,” he said. “No father could be more proud. I love you boys.”
Mullen thanked his sons for being there for their parents, enduring long separations, and for keeping him “if not exactly sane, then at least well-grounded.”
“You’ve grown into the best of men, and the finest of naval officers,” the admiral said. “I look forward with great eagerness to watching your careers unfold.”
Mullen said his own mother would have been proud of his career, and his father would have been thrilled.
“And I think if you ask any of my classmates down there from the class of 1968, they’ll tell you they’ve been wholly amazed by my success,” he added.
Mullen then read a message from his wife to the nation’s military families.
“Nothing can be more trying at times than life in the military -- the deployments, the stress, the uncertainty and the fear,” the admiral read. “But then, nothing born from ease and comfort can ever foster the pride and the resilience that military families exude every day. It has been my honor -- my deep honor -- to be a military spouse and a Navy wife, and to know so many others who wait and worry and work so hard.”
Mullen concluded the message from his wife, “Thank you for your quiet sacrifice and for empowering me to represent your concerns. It has been the greatest privilege. I will miss the life and I will miss all of you.”