SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, the honorable Franklin R. Parker, witnessed the graduation of 486 of the nation's newest Marines as they completed training at Marine Recruit Depot San Diego Sept. 23.
Parker, on a two-day tour of military facilities and commands in the San Diego area, was the ceremony's guest of honor.
"I am filled with pride and admiration for these Marines and their commitment to our nation," said Parker. "Their fortitude, diversity, strength of character and devotion to service is an example of the best America has to offer; and stands testament to the continued vitality of our Marines as the finest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known."
After the ceremony, Parker met with the new Marines, congratulating them on their new milestone and presented a challenge coin to Private 1st Class Draven Crowley, from Bonham, Texas, who received the "Chesty" Puller Recruit Honor Graduate Award for demonstrating the highest potential for future leadership and responsibility in the Marine Corps.
"This is probably the proudest moment of my life," said Crowley. "I don't think anybody could ask for something more honorable than what happened today. It makes my chest rise a little higher; it makes my shoulders roll back a little more. I worked hard for it."
While on his tour of San Diego, Parker visited the Wasp-Class amphibious assault ship USS Boxer (LHD 4), Fleet Readiness Center Southwest and the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar Office of Civilian Human Resources (OCHR).
During his visit to the OCHR, Parker spoke with the staff there, highlighting his agenda for transitioning service members, which he specified as one of his top priorities.
"One of the first things we can do for our active duty service members and folks thinking about transitioning is doing a better job of bringing awareness to the programs out there available to them," said Parker. "We're also trying to encourage folks to start thinking about transitioning earlier in their careers, because if you're doing it six months before, you're not giving yourself a lot of time."
Secretary Parker assumed the duties in January 2016. He is responsible for matters pertaining to manpower and personnel policy within the Department of the Navy, including issues affecting Active and Reserve Component Sailors and Marines, and DoN civilians.