Putting it on the line.    

Photo: (Front row: left to right) Lieutenant Alex Trafeshi, Ensign Matt Richter, Ensign Dwight Castro, Captain Scott Putty, Merchant Marine Captain Buddy Blackburn. (Back row: left to right) Lieutenant James McDowell, Chief Petty Officer Jeff Hiser, Lieutenant Timothy Curtis, Captain James Cleary.

Words passed down from generation to generation have great meaning. And, when spoken by men and women who take an oath of honor to lay down their lives in service of their country, words have greatest meaning.

Those were sentiments of Rear Admiral Robert Smith III, President and CEO of Texas A&M University at Galveston, as he encouraged honored graduates of TAMUG and the newest commissioned officers of the Department of Naval Science.

Miami, Fla. native Dwight Castro and Port Aransas, Texas native Matt Richter, were formally commissioned on December 14 as Ensigns in the U.S. Naval Reserves. Training they received through the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps and the Texas A&M Maritime Academy prepared them for roles as Navy and licensed Merchant Marine officers. 

As commissioned officers, Castro and Richter are highly qualified to support national defense sealift requirements and capabilities executed by the United States Navy. They have the ability to serve as emergency crew for sealift ships and shore-side support to Navy commands that require unique maritime expertise.

Rear Admiral Smith spoke to these new officers about leadership and tradition.

“You’ll always be blue and gold,” he said, referencing Navy colors. “But, you also come from a long maroon line that represents Texas A&M. That’s leadership.”

NROTC Lieutenant Tim Curtis and guest speaker Merchant Marine Captain Buddy Blackburn echoed the admiral’s statement.

“You must take ownership of what you’ve been assigned and know you can do it well,” Curtis said.

Blackburn passed along comments from his mentor saying that “the good get better, the better get best and never let it rest.” He said, “Keep the sea lanes of communication open during conflict and rise to leadership.”

As the baton was passed from one generation to the next, newly-commissioned Ensigns Castro and Richter accepted words of advice and encouragement to carry on tradition.

Castro said he would carry lessons he learned with him forever and pass them to the next generation of Americans. He thanked family, shipmates, instructors, professors and mentors.

“Without you, I would not be half the man I am today and achieving this milestone could not even be conceivable,” he said.

Richter also thanked those who helped prepare him for his commission for their “dedication to the Navy unit and to the Texas Maritime Academy”.

“They (his mentors) have all had very successful careers and are here for the sole purpose of instilling their knowledge and experience upon us,” Richter said. “Without their passion and commitment, we would not have the necessary foundation required to succeed in such a close- knit and unique industry.”

And so, with words spoken from one generation to the next, with an oath of allegiance proclaimed and a testimony of gratitude, Ensigns Castro and Richter follow in a proud tradition of service to their country.