Annapolis, Arleigh and Alex: By the Company One Keeps

Sunday, August 25th, 2013

Five years ago while President of the local Naval Academy Alumni Association, I endowed a leadership award in honor of George Herbert, USNA ’45, and the first President of the Research Triangle Institute in our RTP. The annual recipient is a newly commissioned officer from the Piedmont Naval ROTC Battalion comprising the programs at Duke, UNC and NC State. Since 2012, sponsorship of the prize has been adopted by the family of Bill and Ann Sena.

A couple of years later, the Knops family endowed a like leadership award for a graduating midshipman from Duke’s NROTC Program in honor of Fred Knops, USNA class of 1954. Now we recognize leadership potential at Duke and across UNC and NC State.

Giving truly is receiving as I’ve derived continuous and deep satisfaction from the people that I’ve met in organizing and merely attending these annual officer commissioning ceremonies.

My original intent was to better connect all things Navy in our Research Triangle area as we are far from our obvious element. I’ve become much better connected in this gratifying process.

Our elder son graduated from UC Boulder in the spring of 2012. I learned that one of our naval heroes, Arleigh Burke, was raised in Boulder, Colorado. At his commissioning ceremony, I suggested to the Marine colonel who commanded the NROTC battalion that we might initiate a annual leadership award in honor of Admiral Burke. He concurred.

We awarded on August 10th the first Admiral Arleigh Burke Leadership Award to the midshipman exhibiting outstanding leadership potential based upon his achievements as a member of Naval ROTC Battalion at the University of Colorado at Boulder, aka Zach Collver. Zack spent 10 years as an Electrician’s Mate aboard nuclear-powered submarines; is a father of a family with three young children; his next assignment is flight school in Pensacola. I believe that he’s 28 years old.

Now that my service is long past and I sometimes yearn for a thread of relevant connection, I may encounter the likes of Zach and the now young officers who train and lead them. Inevitably, I am boosted by the notion that in the maze of personal interconnections that if indeed I am a member of their club, I am one lucky person.

My remarks at the ceremony are below. Key point for me is that individual achievement does not separate us.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, Ensign Collver introduced himself informing me that my own son and he were well known to each other when they shared duties in the battalion. On the plaque on the wall in the wardroom, his name is and forever will be the first.


Subject: UC Boulder Inaugural Admiral Arleigh Burke Leadership Award
– Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
I’m honored to be a guest among such a distinguished audience. Congratulations to our newest and finest young officers. It won’t always be fun….but now the real fun begins.
– To my fellow parents, well done. Our new officers are underway and you too may now enjoy the satisfying results of your numerous sacrifices.
– Greetings to Colonel Dinauer. Without Steve’s immediate endorsement of my notion for the establishment of a leadership award, I would have likely neglected to pursue this opportunity. It’s a proud moment to be reminded of the unique Navy-Marine Corps relationship.
– As you may know, Col. Dinauer retired this summer after 30 years of varied and accomplished service. Congratulations. Your future associates are indeed fortunate. Best of luck.
– Final thanks to the Unit’s Executive Officer, Commander Walt Morgan. Indeed, notions are necessary, and sometimes even useful… Execution is the guardian angel of achievement. XO and his staff could not have made my participation in this ceremony any more convenient or more pleasant.
-Why am I sponsoring this Award?
This Award acknowledges the courage of each midshipman to be different….. by virtue of their commitment to belong to something larger than themselves. This may be my personal definition of leadership.
– I’m a Naval Academy graduate, class of 1974. At Annapolis, we studied the exploits of Boulder native, Arleigh Burke, USNA class of 1923, and his heralded Little Beavers of Destroyer Squadron 23.
– Coincidentally, the last of the Arleigh Burke DDGs was launched in 2012 and will likely remain in service for the next 30 years.

– My son, Alex graduated CU and commissioned last year, 2012. Thanks to the Unit led by Col. Dinauer, he will come to learn the lasting value of service to our nation as I belatedly understood this gift.
– We’re here for a purpose as, clearly, this award was meant to be.
– This ABLA is presented to Ens Zack Collver. His achievements, although they distinguish him, do not separate him from us. His performance within the Unit and the promise of his character connects us all. Repeat.
– However long you may serve our Navy, we recognize that, in the genuine and courageous spirit of Arleigh Burke, you will forever serve our country.
– Congratulations, Sir. Semper Fi. Go Navy.