Navy’s oldest sailor ends service with ceremony
January 26, 2007
NAPLES, Italy — Master Chief Petty Officer Doug Forziati seems to have something in common with Michael Jordan, Brett Favre and Cal Ripken — and as a U.S. sailor in his 60s, that something has nothing to do with sporting talent or salaries.
The famed athletes “are” their respective sports, said Adm. Harry Ulrich. “And Doug, you are the U.S. Navy,” the commander of Naval Forces Europe said Thursday at Forziati’s retirement ceremony.
“You’ll leave, and the Navy will go on,” Ulrich said, “but will go on because of what you left behind. We’re here to celebrate not your departure, but what you’ve left behind.”
What Forziati is leaving behind is a legacy of strong leadership by a master chief who genuinely cared for his sailors and their families, said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Trzcinski, director of the Allied Forces Band Naples.
At 64, Forziati not only predated sailors in Naples, but those around the world. Until Thursday’s retirement, he held the title as oldest serving sailor in the U.S. Navy.
Which means he knows a thing or two, Forziati said.
“He knows sailors’ names, even those not in trouble,” Trzcinski said in a speech laden with jokes. “He knows their families’ names. He knows that making music is a really good job, and making music for our country … is really important.”
Forziati’s retirement proved “a sad day” for Ulrich, he said. “Not because you’re retiring — I couldn’t care less,” the admiral joked. “But now, I’m the oldest Navy person in the Naples area.”
And so, on his last day of active duty, Forziati shared a top 10 list of things he learned during 47 years as a musician — nearly 30 of which have been with the Navy. Forziati joined as a trumpet player in 1960, left in 1964, and then rejoined in 1981.
His lessons-learned included how to get 10 tons of musical equipment up a mountain and that camaraderie is key in the military.
He vowed not to cry during his retirement ceremony, and when it came to addressing his wife, Sally, he kept his message short to stave off the tears: “I love you.”
Forziati left the crowd of more than 200 with this: “Whether you think you can, or whether you think you can’t, you’re right.”