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A Patriotic and Emotional Ceremony – The Commissioning of the U.S.S. Paul Ignatius (DDG 117)

Over this past weekend, a small group from the HR Florida State Council had the honor of attending the commissioning of the newest Naval destroyer, the U.S.S. Paul Ignatius (DDG 117) at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale. The ship’s namesake, Paul Ignatius, spoke at a ceremony on Friday night and the Commissioning on Saturday. At 98-years old, he is a living legend who served as the 59th United States Secretary of the Navy, and previously a Navy lieutenant, and Assistant Secretary of the Army. His late wife, Nancy, is the ship’s sponsor and they were married over 70 years. Nancy was present every step of the way starting at fabrication in 2015 and she christened the ship in 2017. She passed this past January, but it was evident she was there in spirit.

The HR Florida group received our invitations through our partnership with the Florida Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR). This ongoing partnership has allowed many HR professionals around our great state to experience military trainings, voyages, parachuting and ceremonies. We have also introduced this powerful organization to our attendees at the annual HR Florida State Conference & Expo to gain a better understanding of recruiting and hiring our veterans and their dependents.

At Friday’s ceremony, Chad Sorenson (HR Florida president-elect) and I also had the honor of meeting Commander Robby D. Trotter, Commanding Officer, and his beautiful wife Pamela, and Lenard D. Cannon, Executive Officer, and his beautiful wife Tina. They all affectionately call Peter Caspari of ESGR “Pops” and his lovely wife Rebecca, “Mom.” They even have the polo-style embroidered shirts to prove it! The Commanders are exceptional gentlemen. Also, during this time, we continued the conversation on how we can support the crew as the ship will be stationed in Jacksonville. The local chapter, SHRM Jacksonville, has graciously “adopted” the ship. We also plan to welcome the 314 brave sailors and their dependents to our great state and will be supporting the dependents with finding local jobs and continuing to educate employers throughout Florida on why hiring veterans is not only a great thing to do, but also makes sense for your business!

The Commissioning Ceremony on Saturday included the presentation of the colors, national anthem, invocation, guest speakers, principal address, placing the ship in commission, setting the first watch, manning the ship and bringing her to life, reporting for duty, breaking the flag, Commanding Officer’s remarks, and benediction. While it was a very hot South Florida morning on the pier, there were numerous times that the responsibility and emotion sent chills down my spine and cold tears streaming down my face. This crew is dedicating themselves, and their families, to protect our freedom, and we need to do all we can do to welcome them to their new home.

This (probably) once in a lifetime experience will be engrained in each of us and we look forward to honoring and serving our new family members in Jacksonville.

In words of the ship’s namesake, Paul Ignatius, “Always Ready – to Fight On!”

Heather “HD” Deyrieux, MSM, SHRM-SCP, SPHR is the Manager – Workforce Planning with Sarasota County Government. As part of the Human Resources Team, she supports over 2,200 employees and 1,100 volunteers. She previously served in the private sector as Director of Talent at Dental Care Alliance, Director of Strategic Development at the International Business Innovation Association (InBIA), and Director of Strategic Planning & Development with the Great Job Spot Network. HD is the current President of HR Florida State Council and has previously served as the President-Elect, Conference Director, Secretary, Treasurer, Emcee and other roles for the conference. Heather earned a Bachelor of Science in General Business and a Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Human Resources at the University of Central Florida. Go Knights!

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