GREENVILLE — Members of VFW Post 7262 held a ceremony Saturday afternoon honoring post commander Dean Delk, and celebrating his retirement from the Navy after more than 20 years of service. Delk’s service included two overseas tours.
At the start of Saturday’s event, Chief Kevin Haneberg and Commander Jim Prouty, commanding officer of the Navy Reserve Center in Columbus, spoke briefly, thanking Delk for his service and expressing gratitude to his family for their sacrifice. In particular, Commander Prouty acknowledged Delk’s mother.
“Even though she’s not in the military, she is a nurse, which means she’s devoted to other people as well,” Prouty said. “Selfless. Thank you for that.”
There followed a brief ceremony in which members of the Color Guard folded an American flag and presented it to Delk’s mother.
“I had a very, very tremendous career,” Delk said. “I started this adventure in 1982. I’ve made a lot of friends; we’ve had some good times, and some bad times too. I’ve seen countries I’ll never go back to, unfortunately. Some countries I’d like to, some countries I wouldn’t.”
Delk also spoke of the sometimes disorienting experience of returning home after a deployment.
“When I got out of boot camp, I had to call my friend to find out where my parents lived,” Delk said, laughing. “They moved on me. That’s the one letter my parents forgot to send.”
Delk took the opportunity to thank his family for their support during his years of service, presenting flowers and certificates of appreciation to his mother, son, daughter, and several of his grandchildren.
“We talk about the sacrifices,” Delk said. “But I don’t know that people understand exactly what the sacrifices are. During the times when I was gone, I lost a lot. Those are the times that I could’ve been here, but I chose not to be. When we put this uniform on, a lot goes out the window. And your family will let you know the things that you’ve lost. Birthdays, graduations, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. A lot.”
Delk said he relied on the community to help look after his home and family during the times he was deployed.
“My neighbors found out real quick that I was part of the military,” Delk said. “Because I walked up and said, ‘Can I ask a favor of you? Let me introduce myself.’ That’s a hell of a lot to ask of somebody you don’t really know that well. But on the whole, they were there for me, and I appreciate that.”
Delk also spoke about the importance of the VFW, as well as the dangers and challenges facing many veterans.
“Here at the VFW, we do vets for vets,” Delk said. “A lot of the guys here, they just need conversation. They know what you’ve gone through, and you know what they’ve gone through. Vets commit suicide at an alarming rate, so if you see a vet and it seems like something’s not right, be a friend. Lend an ear. Help out.”
Finally, Delk presented a check for $1,250 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Darke County on behalf of the VFW, and encouraged his fellow vets and their family members to get involved in the organization. Jenny Bruns, who accepted the check, agreed.
“Become a mentor,” Bruns said to the assembled post members. “As vets, you have so much knowledge and experience that you can give to these kids.”
The ceremony ended with Delk being officially relieved of duty and given permission to “go ashore.”
“He stood the watch for 22 years,” Chief Haneberg said, “so that we, our families, and our fellow countrymen could sleep soundly each and every night, knowing that a sailor stood the watch. Today, we are here to say ‘Shipmate… the watch stands relieved.’”
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