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Local Navy son retires

Commander Christopher L. Webster, son of Mr. and Mrs. Ted (Becky) Webster of Larned, and brother of Ryan Webster, Larned, was recently honored by the Navy Talent Acquisition Group in Denver, Colo. Commander Webster’s Retirement Ceremony accompanied by the Change of Command ceremony was conducted at Coors Field on May 17th of 2019.

The invocation and benediction were delivered by Pastor Ryan Webster, and the National Anthem was sung by CDR Webster’s oldest daughter, Genevie.

“The event touched us because of course, this was our son who was being honored, but it wasn’t just Chris. This is the most patriotic event I have ever been to, and I was proud of him and our wonderful country. We sometimes forget what a blessing we have in this nation.”

“Every detail had meaning and respect for our flag. The change of command; then the ceremony of retirement demonstrated the respect and honor given to our Navy officers and to our flag.”

“It’s important to learn about these ceremonies, because they reflect the attitude and respect of the military for things we hold dear,” added Becky.

Protocol is very important and significant in such ceremonies in the military. Full dress uniform, white gloves and the formal dress code are followed precisely. 

The event began with the change of command. CDR Webster was retiring after 22 years of service, and the command was transferred at this time to a CDR Ryan.

Once the transfer ceremony was complete, the Retirement Service commenced. After opening remarks, and guest speakers, the flag ceremony began with five officers in a line, walking erectly and with precision with Commander Webster being the last. Each officer represented one of the ranks held by Chris throughout his career, from Ensign to Commander. The gloved, first sailor held the folded flag, slowly commanding the salute, turning it over, pivoting, and passing it to the next sailor, and to the next, until it was handed to Chris; each hand-over initiated with a slow salute; and the pivot. The retiring officer, Chris, then pivoted, and walked to his father and presented the precisely folded flag to him.

Unbeknown to his father, Ted Webster, the flag had been the same flag Commander Webster had presented to his grandmother at his grandfather’s funeral. Webster had kept the secret of the flag’s existence from his father for this occasion. CDR. Webster also presented gifts to each of his family as the ceremony continued. His wife, mother-in-law, and mother, Becky, and two daughters were each were presented with a beautiful bouquet. Additionally, he presented his two boys with engraved pocket knives to commemorate the day.

The retirement ceremony concluded with the reading of The Watch” and Webster requesting ‘Permission to Go Ashore” for the last time. After the passing of the Flag, Old Glory, the ceremony, in Navy tradition, depicted the departure. In Navy tradition, six servicemen, the “Sideboys” lined a walkway that Webster would depart through. One, the “Bos’n” blew a shrill whistle, and one rang a bell four times, indicative of Webster’s rank. There followed a one-hand salute as Webster went ashore. Following his departure, Webster returned to take his family ashore in the same manner. 

A shout called out, “Commander retired, departing!” ... and then as the family departed, another shout, “Navy family departing!”

There was not a dry eye in the entire assembly.

The bell continued to ring. The departure was complete. And the next generation of leaders took the helm.