The Center for Information Warfare Training (CIWT) in Pensacola piped ashore Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (Maintenance) (CTM) Neil Watson, a native of Homestead, as he retired from the Navy after 30 years of dedicated and honorable service during a ceremony onboard Naval Air Station Pensacola Corry Station, Pensacola, Florida, Apr. 12.
Over 130 family members, friends and shipmates attended the ceremony to honor and bid “fair winds and following seas” to Watson, the Navy’s senior CTM.
The presiding officer for the ceremony, retired Lt. Cmdr. Mike MacDonald, commended Watson for his loyal devotion to the Navy, Sailors and families.
“The moment I met Neil years ago, I knew he was a special guy and the kind of Sailor to get things done,” MacDonald said. “Neil and his family have sacrificed an incredible amount for the Navy, and without a doubt, he’s made a lasting, positive impact on his Sailors and the CTM rating for many years to come.”
Capt. Nick Andrews, CIWT’s commanding officer, presented Watson the Meritorious Service Medal for superior performance as CIWT’s CTM rating training manager and directorate senior enlisted leader from 2017 to 2019. Some of the top metrics in the citation included: “As the driving force behind the resurgence of the CTM training pipeline, his innovation and expertise ensured the rating is prepared to meet future fleet requirements and strategic goals. Under his steadfast leadership, new courses were approved, designed and implemented for optimal opportunity and adjusted to meet Navy training goals. Additionally, as senior enlisted leader for over 75 senior military and civilian personnel, 225 courses and 22,000 annual students, he yielded an unmatched team cohesiveness and culture of enhancement aligning with Sailor 2025 and Ready Relevant Learning objectives.
Through his initiatives and attention to detail, the Center for Information Warfare Training was awarded the Naval Education and Training Command Training Excellence Award in each category, an unprecedented accomplishment.”
Retired Master Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Sam Catalane served as one of the guest speakers.
“Neil always went above and beyond with anything he did, and above all, he loves the Navy,” Catalane said. “There’s no better trait than leadership and Neil was and always has been a true leader — a great chief, senior chief and master chief petty officer.”
Retired Master Chief Information Systems Technician Frank Carollo was another guest speaker.
“Neil always challenged Sailors and others around him to always do and be better,” Carollo said. “He never left a Sailor behind and always took them along for the ride. You are example to everyone and have a solid moral compass for others to emulate. You are a true brother, leader, shipmate and chief, Neil.”
The ceremony also included numerous presentations to Watson and his family.
A Meritorious Service Award, signed by Vice Adm. Timothy White, commander of U.S. Fleet Cyber Command and U.S. 10th Fleet, highlighted: “Master Chief Watson served with devotion and honor during cryptologic and information warfare assignments in California, Virginia, Florida, and Iraq. His career was distinguished by excellence in leadership, technical acumen, and a deep commitment to the information warfare and cryptologic communities.”
During his remarks, Watson shared how the Navy offers you many opportunities such as “who gets to” and how numerous prior and current shipmates and Sailors impacted his career.
“I wouldn’t be here today without the support, guidance leadership and friendship of many of you in the room today,” Watson said. “You never know what is going to happen to you so when opportunities arise; rise with them. Who gets to learn about the consistency as a leader from one of the best, retired Lt. Cmdr. Mike MacDonald? Who gets to be a chief at sea and lead Sailors?
Who gets to make Navy policy? Who gets to make positive change every day?”
Watson also individually thanked the numerous family and friends in attendance.
“My sole source of life comes from one person, my wife,” said Watson. “You are why I stand here today, and without you, there’s no doubt I would not have achieved my goals. You are my best friend, my sounding board, my confidant, you are my rock, and most of all my heart, my soul and my love. To my daughters, you are my inspiration and I look forward to making more great memories in this next chapter of our lives.”
The ceremony also included a retirement flag folding and presentation with the recitation of “Old Glory,” the reading of the Chief Petty Officer Retirement Creed and concluded with a recitation of “The Watch.”
In closing, Watson shared, “We are what make up the Navy, we make our country safer, our family better and our lives worth living. Thank you for allowing me to serve 30 years in the Navy I love. It has been a pleasure and a privilege.”
Watson and his family were then piped ashore for the last time by the honors boatswain.
Watson joined the Navy in June 1989. Following basic training at Recruit Training Command Orlando, Florida, he completed CTM “ELTECH,” “A” school and various “C” schools at Naval Technical Training Center Corry Station from August 1989 to June 1991. Watson is a graduate of Homestead Senior High School and attended Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN. He is designated a specialist in information, surface and air warfare and qualified as a master training specialist.
During his 30-year career, Watson served at the Bureau of Naval Personnel as enlisted community manager and technical advisor for the CTM rating. His other assignments include USS Arkansas (CGN 41); Fleet Combat Training Center Dam Neck, Virginia; USS Kearsarge (LHD 3); U.S. Third Fleet, where he embarked on USS Coronado (AGF 11); United States Central Command, where he advance to the rank of chief petty officer and deployed to Baghdad, Iraq; USS Rentz (FFG 46); Naval Surface Forces Atlantic, and Information Warfare Training Command Corry Station. He deployed in support of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield; Kosovo Operations Noble Anvil/Allied Force; the Global War on Terrorism; RIMPAC 2000 and 9/11 command and control operations.