ANNAPOLIS, Md. (NNS) -- Family, friends, and classmates gathered to honor a shipmate, marking the culmination of 41 years of distinguished naval service at a retirement ceremony at the U.S. Naval Academy, March 28.
Rear Adm. Alton L. Stocks, deputy chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Wounded, Ill and Injured, comes from a family with careers in medicine and the military. A 1972 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, Stocks completed Nuclear Power Training and served as a submariner prior to becoming a Medical Corps officer.
"My shipmates, my family, thank you for being there for me throughout my career as a line officer and a Medical Corps officer," said Stocks. "It has been my honor and true pleasure to serve in the Navy and Navy Medicine during such a great period of change. And to my classmates, the Naval Academy class of 1972 is now retired."
The ceremony, rich in naval heritage and tradition, was personal with participation by his family members, shipmates and classmates. His wife, Cmdr. Joyce Stocks, served as the mistress of ceremony and their daughter, Caroline Stocks, sang the national anthem.
Several guest speakers expressed their appreciation on behalf of the Navy and a grateful nation for his unselfish dedication to naval service and thanked his family for supporting him during his career.
Retired Adm. John C. Harvey, secretary of Virginia's Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security and former commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, highlighted Stocks' operational impact as a medical leader in Haiti during Operation Unified Response.
"He knew what he needed to do, and he did it," said Harvey. "Admiral Stocks represents the very best of Navy Medicine and our Navy. Thank you for everything you've done for me, our shipmates, our Navy and our nation."
Vice Adm. Matthew Nathan, Navy surgeon general and chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, spoke of the significant contributions Stocks made to the Navy throughout his impressive career. He highlighted numerous worldwide assignments at sea and shore commands, including Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, Naval Medical Center Portsmouth, and U.S. Naval Forces Europe/U.S. 6th Fleet.
"Navy Medicine owes you a debt of gratitude we will never be able to repay," said Nathan. "We can't thank you and your entire family enough for all you have done for our Navy."
In his remarks, Stocks emphasized the importance of service and leadership. His ceremony underscored the importance of naval history and heritage.
The class of 1972 had the distinction of being the Naval Academy class with the longest serving member in the Navy - the "Old Goat." With Stocks' retirement, this honored distinction was passed to Vice Adm. Michael Miller, U.S. Naval Academy superintendent, USNA class of 1974, to carry on the tradition.
"To mark this occasion I have an item which I would like to pass to pass along to Admiral Miller," said Stocks. "This decanter has the Naval Academy seal along with the words 'Old Goat' inscribed on it. On the reverse are my initials and the year 1972, followed by your initials and the year 1974. I expect you will one day pass this along to a member of still a junior class."
Stocks also presented his sword to his son, USNA Midshipman 2nd Class Zachary Stocks, during the ceremony.
"As a midshipman prepares to graduate, he or she will often receive a sword as a gift from his family," said Stocks. "Today I would like to present my sword to Zach. I've had it engraved with his initials and class alongside mine."
Carrying on the family tradition, Stocks relieved his father of his military duties with a reading of "The Watch."
"Dad, you stand relieved," said Stocks.
"Son, I am relieved."
U.S. Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.
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