< Return to MilitaryGear.com

A Veterans Day Tribute to My Father

Perspectives  November 11 2012
 — By CJ Grisham
A Veterans Day Tribute to My Father

My dad at boot camp in 1967.

I was raised by my mother and step-father, a Navy veteran. My dad, Jim Stuthers, spend his entire life in service to his country. He joined the Navy in 1967 and rose to the highest enlisted rank that the Navy has. He was the kind of Senior NCO that cared deeply about his Sailors as evidenced by the way I witnessed his interactions with them. Whenever a Sailor would call him, he never made him or her feel like they were a distraction to him.

My dad at boot camp in 1967.

My dad taught me to respect women at all times. Like me, he had a short fuse when he felt my mom was being disrespected by me or my sisters.

Official photo for Seaman Apprentice Jim Stuthers

He taught me how to do various home repairs, always pulling me aside when he had to do something different that needed to be done so I could see how he did it. Those little life lessons have come in handy as I’ve grown my own family and needed to do various home projects myself.

PO2 Jim Stuthers during his re-enlistment

My dad taught me a lot about being a Non-Commissioned Officer. He always strived to be the best at everything he did and instilled that sense of discipline in me. He taught me that nothing was worth doing if it wasn’t done right and done right the first time. He taught me discipline. As a child in Japan, I got in some trouble off base. My dad at the time was the Command Master Chief of Atsugi Naval Air Station. He could have gotten me off the hook, but he wanted to make sure that I also understood what responsibility was. I filled my evenings and weekends over the next few months helping to renovate a bowling alley on the base.

My dad (far left) with his HS-3 flight crew as a Petty Officer First Class.

While contemplating whether or not I would extend my enlistment past a first term, I decided to give my dad a call. As a Staff Sergeant, I was frustrated with the lack of good leadership in the NCO Corps. I had a few good mentors, including Miguel Millet-Ocasio and Lucy Crumley, but they were few and far between and seemed to be getting worse.

My dad during a med cruise in the fall of 1972.

My dad gave me some of the best advice he could at the time. “CJ,” he said. “If you get out, who will be left to take care of your Soldiers? Who will be the examples that they should follow?”

I knew then what my course was and reenlisted. He said to always focus on my troops and take care of them. If I did that, they would take care of me. He told me always make the hard right decisions over the easy wrong ones. In the end, those right decisions will actually make the rest of my career easy. Specifically, he told me, “as long as you’re always doing the right thing, you’ll never have anything to worry about. You might upset some people, but in the end they won’t be able to hold anything over your head.”

Senior Chief Petty Officer Jim Stuthers

Those words of wisdom have sustained me over the past 18 years of my Army life. Most decisions were easy to make; there was no moral dilemma. But, some weren’t. When I made the decision to recommend a former commander for UCMJ based on her incompetence and trying to pass the responsibility onto others when her orders were followed and things didn’t go right, I came under a lot of heat. I was thankful that other squad leaders at the time were willing to stand up with me. In the end, after months of intense stress and attempts to discredit me, I came out on top. That commander never made it past Major (making Major is a virtual given).

Command Master Chief Petty Jim Stuthers.

Recently, in Afghanistan, when there was an individual attempting to discredit me with lies and misrepresentations, I stuck to my guns. There was a steady stream of investigations that diverted my attention from my mission and caused a lot of frustration for my command. I was open and honest and didn’t try to pretend that I wasn’t without some culpability. When all was said and done and three investigations complete, the allegations were unsubstantiated. I have always accepted responsibility for good and bad, right and wrong. My dad’s advice and mentorship (along with the advice and mentorship of my Army mentors) was always front and center in my mind.

Various photos of my dad with the Mayor of Atsugi while he was CMC of the NAS there.

This Veterans Day, I just wanted to let him know how much I appreciate his service to this country and to me as a son. Even though I wasn’t his flesh and blood, he never treated me like a step-son. I am and always have been his son.

After 29 years of service, my dad retired from the Navy. He would have stayed longer, but he was the Command Master Chief in charge of recruiting in the southeast. He understood that Sailors are often ordered to recruiting duty and, either because of personal reasons or the station where they were sent, they didn’t do well. Many times, it was through no fault of their own that these Sailors couldn’t meet their quotas. But, my dad was forced to write bad reviews that ended careers. He didn’t like that. He understood that recruiting is a feast or famine business and not cut out for everyone. Instead of continuing to ruin careers, he decided to retire.

But, he didn’t end there. After retiring, my dad began teaching Navy Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps at a high school in the Tampa area. He was selected to create a program where none existed. Within the first two years, his cadets were winning trophies and setting records in Florida. His program was the envy of others. He continued to set high standards and it showed in the cadets he mentored. Many of his cadets that went on to join the Navy continue to keep him updated as they progress through their careers. That’s the sign of a good leader.

My dad’s NJOTC instructor photo.

Now, after about 15 years of that, my dad is retiring again. This will be his final year of teaching Americans to become better citizens and patriots. But, he’s not finished.

He is now putting his hard work, integrity, and professional excellence to work as a real estate agent in the Bradenton, Florida, area. If you’re in the market for a home, regardless of where you live, send him a note through his site and he will help you with the process. He can recommend agents in your area and you’ll be supporting an honorable veteran in the process.

This Veterans Day, I want to honor by dad and share his life with my readers! Happy Veterans Day, dad.

You can also read about my grandfather’s, my step-dad’s father, military time during WWII here, here, and here. It’s easy to see that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

(2) Readers Comments

  1. This is so touching I almost cried. I think every man in uniform really deserves respect and honor even after their death. This post is so great CJ! Thanks for sharing!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>