Friday, September 21, 2012

Trip to a Military Mecca

Today I made my way to Bob's new office building where he hopped into the car and off we went to USAA. If you are not in the military then just know that USAA is the most fantastic company for we military folk. We bank with them because they serve us all over the world. We invest with them. We have life insurance, homeowner's insurance, car insurance, charge cards.....the list could go on. When we move, and you know we move often, then all it takes is one email or phone call to change to the new address on everything we have with USAA. If any other insurance company approaches you all you have to say is "I have USAA" and they will just walk away. No sales pitch or pressure to buy from them. Awesome!!!

Now normally USAA is some entity out in the ether somewhere. Everything is done by mail, phone or Internet. Now you can even deposit checks by taking a picture of them with your phone. We can withdraw cash from any ATM in the world and we get reimbursed for the fee up to something like $15 per month. Who needs a bank building?

Well....there IS a building and it is in San Antonio. All those 800 numbers (I think) are answered in San Antonio. Where do we live? San Antonio!! And our financial consultant (I know, it's weird but we do have a financial consultant!) called us in for a meeting to check on our 'portfolio' and to discuss all our options, particularly now that we are officially retired. And here's what we saw:

It's REAL! 

Sorry about the was that time of day but I did want to get a photo of the sign. It's on the access road by I-10 near Huebner. We parked and made our way to the glass-fronted building.

Entry to USAA

Inside is what must be a lovely fountain when it's flowing but all water features are turned off due to our extreme drought and local water restrictions. You'll just have to use your imagination!

Dry fountain 

Then I turned around and this is the view from the other side of the glass. What a nice airy and bright place to work!

View from inside

Truth be told I got in some quality knitting time while listening to the guys talk numbers. Hopefully my eyes did not appear to glaze over. Yes, yes. I'm interested but mostly in the bottom line. How much yarn can I buy this month? When I leave this world there will be one heck of a crafter's dream garage sale!! 8^)


Monday, September 17, 2012

More of the Retirement Ceremony

After Bob gave his speech there was a standing ovation. Such attention makes him uncomfortable so here he is trying to get everyone to stop. It didn't really work though. He just had to wait it out!

Enough already!
Next was the Flag Ceremony. Bob really tried to not have this included but he was overruled by all the lower ranking staff. So much for that Admiral gig! I'm really glad they ignored this request of his. This is just the neatest ceremony ever.





There is a poem about the American flag that is read and the flag is very solemnly passed from person to person until all the ranks of the retiring member are covered.

The final pass is from someone with equal rank to the retiring service member. It is a very touching and special thing to watch.

And finally Bob receives the flag. This flag was a gift from troops in Afghanistan. It was flown there. It was then sent to Guam and to Portsmouth, VA to be flown over the two commands Bob had while on active duty.


A final salute

A reflective moment

Gift to Capt Fran Robbins
Fran is overwhelmed by the moment
Fran is Bob's sister and she is a nurse in the USAF. She's a Capt which is the same as a LT in the USN. Their dad was in the US Army so this was extra special to all of us. Way to make us all cry Bob!

Fran salutes 

Next on the agenda is to 'take down the Admiral's flag'. Wherever an Admiral (or General) is working or visiting their flag is flown signifying their presence. The Navy traditions are new to most of the non-Navy service members at METC but Chief did a great job of sounding like a pirate when he gave the order. Thanks, Chief!!

Take down the Admiral's flag!

Admiral's flag has been taken down, sir!

Admiral's flag presented to Bob

Next the final heart-wrenching bit.....the retiring service member is piped ashore.

Piping ashore

Almost finished

Next the family is piped ashore and that is the end of the ceremony.

Ellen and Karyn join Bob and me to be piped ashore.

Fair winds and following seas shipmate.

And of course there is food at the end!

Proud papa

Proud mama too

Jon Cole, Ellen Kiser, Bob, me, David Dahl-Hansson, Karyn Kiser

Kids wanted to include Katie who was still in Pakistan at the time.

Many, many thanks to everyone who came to share in the moment, sent good wishes, wrote letters, called and just generally gave us a lot of support. Lasting memories were created and will be cherished by all of us. After this ceremony Bob was still not officially retired on paper. He had just a few more duties to perform and then went on terminal leave August 6th. Terminal leave is not as bad as it sounds. We just used up all the days of leave that Bob never got around to taking while he was working!

Actual official retirement was on September 1st. So far retired life is pretty busy. I'm hoping for calm to settle soon. 8^) And Bob has a pretty good beard going these days even though it is a totally different color than back in the day! LOVE IT!!

Bearded Bob


Thursday, September 6, 2012

Retirement Ceremony

Bob started work this week at University of the Incarnate Word. Maybe I should finally show his retirement ceremony back on June 15th since he finally became honest-to-goodness retired on September 1st!

On June 15th at 0900 (9 AM for us civilians!) we all gathered at Anderson Hall for the formal ceremony finalizing a career of 38 years of reserve and active duty service.

Front row seats

Here we all are right in the front row. Jon and Ellen, me, Karyn and David and then my sister-in-law Judy and my brother Clifford. That last person is RDML Valentin who will appear again later.

Friends were there too

Here also are Erika Pearce, Robin Lewis and Captain Lori Frank. We met Erika and Robin while on Guam and Lori works here in San Antonio. And there were many more in the audience. It was so special to see everyone there.
Color Guard

All ceremonies begin with the Color Guard marching in with our flags. We all stand at attention (Civilian folk are supposed to put their hand over their heart. I'm always amazed at the number of people who either don't know this or refuse to do it!) for the Star Spangled Banner. This time we had our very own Ellen playing on her trumpet. She didn't miss a note and her daddy's buttons about popped from his chest swelling with pride.

Ellen Played the Star Spangled Banner 

Colors are retired

I know it sounds odd to say the Colors are retired but it just means they are formally marched out. Sometimes they are posted rather than retired. In that case they would be placed in holders to stay for the entire ceremony and then they are usually retired at the end or they can be left posted. Love this stuff!!

You can see Captain Fran Robbins on the left there. She is Bob's sister and is in the Air Force.

CMSgt Kevin Lambing

Chief Master Sergeant Kevin Lambing was Bob's speaker of choice. Kevin was the number one enlisted member at METC (Medical Education and Training Campus) and is now serving as the Chief of the Medical Enlisted Force for the Air Force. That means he is the number one medical enlisted member of the entire USAF! We are so proud of him and all he has accomplished and are honored to call him friend.

 Then there were awards......

VADM Nathan and RDML Kiser 

Bob received a Legion of Merit from Vice Admiral Matt Nathan, Surgeon General of the Navy. Matt is an internal medicine doctor and a long time acquaintance of Bob.

Gdine-Yellow Rose of Texas

I was commissioned a 'Yellow Rose of Texas' ( ). Woo Hoo!! Our girls were given awards the night before at the Retirement Dinner.

Shadowbox Presented
Dewite Wehrman, a retired Navy guy working at METC as a civilian, and Colonel Geno Montagno, Deputy Commandant at METC, present Bob with his shadowbox. This is a tradition upon retirement. The shadowbox can be any shape, hang on the wall or stand as a table. It is filled with memorabilia from the retiring member's career. In this case Dewite made the shadowbox and did it in the shape of a star which is the identifying collar device of an Admiral. It has all Bob's ranks, his duty stations and a flag flown at Naval Hospital Guam and Navy Medical Center Portsmouth. It is also the flag that was presented to Bob's mom at his Dad's funeral. It is a VERY special and personal tribute and it is proudly hung in our home for all to see.

And then Bob gave his speech.....

RDML William Robert Kiser

If I had any oomph at all I would figure out how to remove those light reflections from Bob's glasses but you are getting the unabridged version here. To be honest I was so overwhelmed by everything that I cannot give you any particulars about the speech but I do know that Bob tried to talk more about the future than the past. And it was absolutely the thing because the work he has done in Family Medicine, as a Medical Officer and especially at Medical Education and Training Campus will affect our Navy's vision and direction for many years to come!

And there is more to come but I think this post is getting pretty long with lots of photos to be continued!