Chief of Naval Operations
Chief of Naval Operations
Admiral Gary Roughead
Secretary of the Navy Donald Winter
January 23, 2009
We are to honor today Secretary Winter. Farewells as you know are never easy and even
though we serve in a profession where farewells are part of our life, they seem to get
harder and harder as the years go on and the responsibilities increase. I think it’s because
as that time progresses we realize the privilege that we’ve had, the experiences that we’ve
had and the great journey that we are a part of. So it is bittersweet that we say farewell to
the Winters but in a way it’s not that bittersweet because they’re really not leaving by the
way, and this is a good thing.
It has also been a true privilege over the last couple of years to have been able to serve
under your leadership. We began, our first meeting in the Pacific in Hawaii at Pearl
Harbor, and I owe my position today to the Secretary and as I said I have great respect for
him. But we were living this blissful existence in Hawaii and the Secretary had rewarded
me with a position in Washington DC that I love and relish.
It really has been a fast couple of years and it has accelerated since Ellen and I arrived in
Washington and most importantly it has been a truly privilege and honor for me to serve
as the Chief of Naval Operations under a great Secretary of the Navy. A man who I’ve
come to know as a gentleman of the greatest intellect, the highest sense of honor and an
absolute, total commitment to the men and women who wear not only this uniform but
the uniform of every service in our Armed Forces. His compassion for our Sailors is
evident in everything that he does. The shortest meeting, the smallest issue, always
distills down to ‘what does it mean for the men and women who serve in our great
He has brought in my opinion the same passion and zeal and enthusiasm to the position
of Secretary of the Navy as one of the greatest – Teddy Roosevelt, who made his mark
and put the Navy of the United States on the world stage with the sailing of the Great
White Fleet. And Secretary Winter realized the importance of that event and saw that as a
re-statement of our global interests and our global responsibilities. He has been the one
who has led us in this milestone year of the sailing of the Great White Fleet.
He has also led the Navy at a time when we have used the Navy, when the Nation has
used the Navy, in a way that it has never done before. As we sit here today, there are
14,000 Sailors, men and women who serve in our Navy, who are in the mountains of
Afghanistan, the deserts of Iraq and the Horn of Africa, serving alongside the Army and
the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Coast Guard, but serving ashore -- and that’s in
addition to our normal global responsibilities. He has spearheaded the programs, the
processes that have allowed us to transform ourselves to support that Navy in this new
way of operating.
He has also been spearheading significant and needed changes in how we do and buy
things in the Navy. We and the world’s navies buy expensive things. That’s just the way it
is. He also has been the leader in addressing that which we can do to bring those costs
down, but again I come back to the fact that he is always about delivering the capability
to the Sailor on the deckplate or in the squadron that is deployed somewhere in the world.
He is exacting in his standards. The term I have used in my staff, Mr. Secretary, is if they
go on to brief you, you better be ready to do a lot of push ups because that’s exactly what
you’re going to be doing. You’re going to be put through your paces, you’re going to be
pressed on the details, you’re going to be asked what the value is of what we are about.
That is what a Secretary of the Navy must do and because of his background, he has been
a mentor, he has been a teacher and he has been an inspiration to those of us who have
been involved in that very, very important business.
And for that Mr. Secretary, on a professional and personal level, I thank you for
everything that you have done and what you have allowed me to do, what you have
shown me to do, so that I can serve the Navy better.
Now the real power behind the office of the Secretary of the Navy is not on the stage
today. It is Linda Winter: a woman of, I’m going to really step out on this one, of greater
intellect than the Secretary of the Navy. A woman of intense interest in what our young
men and women do, how they live, what’s important to them, and what they need for
themselves and their families. She has taken the time to dig in and explore the issues. She
has also benefitted the uniformed spouses by being there at our conferences, by being the
key participant in discussions, in the same way that Secretary Winter does, asking the
questions that often times don’t came to harbor but that are so very important. And
because of that, because of her involvement, we have become a better Navy and our
families and our servicemen and women are much better today than they would have
been a couple of years ago. I thank you for that. And on Ellen’s behalf I would also like
to thank you for your friendship to her. She often comes back and tells me great stories to
include lying on your stomachs and petting dolphins, and again in Hawaii I might add.
But those are the types of times and the types of things that you did to find out more
about who we are, what we do and what is important to us.
So it really has been a true pleasure and an honor to serve with you, to serve for you, as a
partner in leading this great Navy. And on behalf of all who wear this uniform, we wish
you both fair winds and following seas in all that is ahead. But we also recognize that you
will always be part of us and we will always benefit from your leadership and your
integrity and your total commitment to the men and women who serve. Thank you very