Hundreds gathered Friday at the Skywarrior Theater on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island for a dual ceremony.
Not only was Cmdr. Charles Murphy relieved as commanding officer of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit in a traditional Change of Command ceremony, he also said goodbye to the U.S. Navy after 33 years of service.
“Cmdr. Murphy has been an inspirational leader,” said Capt. Katherine Erb, guest speaker for the event and Executive Officer of the Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training in Pensacola, Fla.
“I am proud of your many accomplishments,” she continued. “You worked hard to deliver and you made sure the training was relevant.”
Murphy, who assumed command of CNATTU in June 2011, shared words of thanks with many people in the audience, who included fellow officers, enlisted personnel, civilian instructors and guests. He said his time at the helm of CNATTU, which provides aircraft maintenance training, firefighting, air launched weapons training, electronic warfare training and much more to personnel in the region, has been an exceptional experience.
“The time has flown by and this has been an incredible tour,” Murphy said. “I’m leaving feeling glad and honored to have served with you.”
Murphy said he had received the benefit of his staff’s hard work over the past 18 months, on and off the base.
“We put in more than 8,100 hours of community service. We are part of the community,” he said. “But there remains much to be done, and Cmdr. Arkins is the man who can do the job.”
Command of CNATTU now shifts to Cmdr. Luke Arkins, who enlisted in the Navy in 1981 and received his commission under the Limited Duty Officer program.
“Luke, I see great things in your future,” said Erb. “Your leadership will inspire CNATTU to be the best.”
Arkins had words of praise for his predecessor.
“Thanks so much for the outstanding career of service you’ve given this great nation,” he said to Murphy. “I promise to do my best to keep your tradition of excellence going at CNATTU.
Following the formal change of command, Murphy took the stage once more as gears shifted and the gathering became his retirement ceremony.
“There is no doubt I have been blessed to serve with some of the finest sons and daughters America has produced,” he said.
Capt. Erb presented Murphy with a certificate of service from President Obama, as well as a letter of appreciation from Gov. Christine Gregoire, a certificate of retirement, a presentation from the Chief’s Mess and the traditional shadowbox.
A double flag ceremony, set to the words of the poem “Old Glory,” was held as CNATTU personnel passed a folded flag down each aisle.
Murphy also acknowledged his wife of nearly 30 years, Loida and the couple’s two sons, Andrew, 26 and Kyle, 17.
At several moments throughout the ceremony, Murphy became overcome with emotion, especially when talking of his wife.
“There is no way I would be here today without her,” he said. “I have had a host of mentors and I can’t thank all of them enough for what they did for me and for my family.”
With that, the side boys took their positions and Murphy walked down the gangway.
“The Navy is stronger due to your leadership and personal efforts,” Erb said. “Best of luck. I wish you fair winds and following seas.”