January 3, 2020

You stand relieved...we have the Watch !!!

Commander Bryan Williams

This has been the 2nd military retirement I have had the privilege to shoot. But this by far was and will be one of the most memorable ones. The tile of this blog is taken from a poem "The Watch" that is recited at the retirement ceremony of an officer in the United States Navy.

Commander Bryan Williams has served his country for 28 years. At his ceremony I learned that he comes from a lineage of soldiers and enjoyed being one as well. The father of 5 was not only celebrating his military retirement but, was also going to celebrate his 25th wedding anniversary as well. With all of the milestone this week , the final relief of the watch, I think was the greatest accomplishments of all.

Before I explain why this one, simple routine (at least for the military) was so important I want you to know what The Watch is . Watch standing, or watch keeping, in nautical terms concerns the division of qualified personnel to operate a ship continuously around the clock. On a typical sea going vessel, be it naval or merchant, personnel keep watch on the bridge and over the running machinery. A watch system allows the ship's crew to operate the ship 24 hours a day while also allowing individual personnel adequate time for rest and other duties.

I am pretty sure CDR Williams has been relived and have taken over for other soldiers on the deck. But this day it was different. It was his final relief and he will going ashore for the last time as a Naval officer. What makes this so different? As the poem is being read and the bells begin to toll, CDR Williams take his position to be relieved. Towards the end of the reading his relief comes in his Navy Dress blues standing at attention ready to relive his father ...

"TODAY WE ARE HERE TO SAY "SHIPMATE, THE WATCH STANDS

         RELIEVED. RELIEVED BY THOSE YOU HAVE LED, GUIDED, AND TRAINED.

         CDR WILLIAMS, YOU STAND RELIEVED. WE HAVE THE WATCH."