Don Sherfick

My Own 1994 answer to Peter Pace

Filed By Don Sherfick | March 14, 2007 3:50 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Chris H Douglas, Don't Ask Don't Tell, gays in the military, military, Naval Avionics, Peter Pace, Simpson

Advance Indiana's post featuring an extensive quote from former Wyoming Senator Alan Simpson's remarks on General Pace's comments on gays and lesbians in the military is a must read. In his own post on this site Tuesday morning, Chris Douglas quoted from his own final (and sterling) military performance evaluation as an Air Force officer, reinforcing Simpson's assertion that gays have made outstanding contributions to our military over the years.

The events bring back my own 1994 retirement after 32 years of civilian service as an engineer and then chief attorney for the former Naval Air Warfare Center ("Naval Avionics") on Indy's East Side. "Out" for more than the last half of that time, including the period when I was the chief legal advisor to a number of Navy Captains who commanded the installation, I encountered very few problems, although at times it was clear that my being gay was "fine if we just don't talk about it".

At my retirement dinner, I decided at the end of my remarks, with the then current Commanding Officer and a number of other Navy officers in attendance, to say the following: "I thank you for honoring me this evening, and I hope that my efforts over the years for the Navy have made a positive difference. I only find it ironic that had I been a uniformed member of the Navy, I would have long ago been drummed out as someone deemed incompatible with the service." There was a momentary hush, and then some cautious applause started from the civilians. Then everyone, including the military, stood and began clapping, too. The Pace episode and Chris' post caused me to pull out the paper I had written my parting message on this morning.

It has been a long journey and we are not there yet. But hearing folks like Simpson gives me hope this one phase of our battle is soon going to come to a close.

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