In a couple of hours I will have the honor of speaking at the retirement ceremony of a dear friend who has spent the bulk of his life serving his country.
Chuck Bragg grew up in Florida and as long as he can remember he was fascinated by weather. As a young boy he would study satellite imagery and teach himself how to read tide tables. He practiced being a TV weather forecaster, recording himself with his family’s video recorder to get it right. Eventually surfers began calling him for surf forecasts and friends would ask him for hurricane predictions. He lived in the element – he was (and is) an avid surfer too.
His passion became a skill, and he developed into the most effective operational forecaster I have ever known. He worked his way up through the ranks as an Aerographer’s Mate, culminating in his selection as a Chief Petty Officer. He then earned a commission and began the climb again, eventually reaching the rank of Lieutenant Commander.
He is the type of man who instinctively does what is right. He fights against bureaucracy and injustice with the grace of a bullfighter.
I once visited him on board USS RONALD REAGAN and experienced something I had never seen before, and never since. There was a tangible sense of respect that he inspired – so strong that you could almost touch it. The wardroom respected him because of his abilities; the crew respected him because he had once been one of their own, and he never forgot what it was to be a Sailor.
And he never forgot how to be a friend.
Chuck, congratulations on a great career. Fair winds and following seas, my brother.