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Kristi Langenbacher: Celebrating the last Coast Guard milestone: Retirement

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Throughout a family’s life in the Coast Guard, there are many milestones to celebrate.

A Coast Guard career begins with an enlisted person’s graduation from boot camp or an officer’s commissioning. It is followed by celebrations of promotions, transfers and Change of Command ceremonies. Then, all too suddenly, it is time for retirement.

Retirement ceremonies are a time-honored tradition that formally recognizes the completion of service for the men and women who have served in the military.

Last week our family was honored to attend and take part in the retirement ceremony Capt. Jay Jewess, who retired after 31 years of faithful and honorable service to the United States Coast Guard and to his country.

The service was held on May 24 on the lawn at U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Francisco on Yerba Buena Island, where Jay served as the Deputy Sector Commander. It was a beautiful sunny day, and friends, relatives and Coast Guard members from all around the country gathered to celebrate Jay’s retirement.

Prior to his last assignment, Jay served as the District 11 Chief of Incident Management directing Search and Rescue and Marine Environmental Response operations for California, and Mexico and Central America’s coastal waters out to 1,000 nautical miles offshore.

A native of Bessemer, Mich., Jay graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1986. Following graduation, he was assigned as an Engineer in Training on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Boutwell home-ported in Seattle. He attended flight school asnd was designated as a Naval Aviator in October 1989 and served at several Coast Guard Air Stations, including Houston, Texas, Kodiak, Alaska, and Detroit.

He graduated with honors from postgraduate school at Purdue University, and headed to North Carolina. Jay served at the Aviation Logistics Center in Elizabeth City as the Logistics Support Branch Chief. In 2005 he headed to Group/Air Station Astoria, Ore., then moved to the San Francisco area.

During his retirement speech, Jay spoke fondly of his time in Elizabeth City.

“I am an aviation engineer – a red ragger – extremely proud of that, and have worked with some of the best and brightest engineers and workforce at the Aviation Logistics Center in North Carolina.”

Jay also mentioned my husband in his speech, and the fact that our family has followed his family to almost every locale in his career. We either overlapped or came just after Jay and his family had left numerous areas including Kodiak, Detroit, Purdue, Elizabeth City and now the San Francisco Bay area.

Jay and his wife Luci had their first two children, Tyler and Hannah in Kodiak. Jack, their youngest, was born in Detroit – our daughter was born at the same hospital about a year later. Our families spent a lot of time together in Elizabeth City, and also here in California.

The entire Jewess family has been a shining example of friendship and support to us and many other Coast Guard families over the years. And, they have all embraced Jay’s career and supported him in his service throughout deployments, separations and long nights on duty.

Jay has been a dedicated officer, inspirational leader, and devoted servant to the Coast Guard for more than 30 years. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is lucky to have him, and the entire Coast Guard community will miss Jay and his family.

Kristi Langenbacher is a Coast Guard spouse and writes about military family life.