Residents and guests at Spanish Cove Retirement Village were treated to a talk by a special guest during last week’s Veterans Day celebration.
Featured speaker at the annual event was Retired Rear Admiral Douglas McClain who served 32 years in the U.S. Navy, 11 of them shipboard.
His service included over four years in the Persian Gulf where he flew over 300 combat missions in Operation Desert Storm, Southern Watch and Iraqi Freedom. The highly decorated Navy pilot has made over 1,500 carrier landings – including 500 at night – on 11 different aircraft carriers.
He is one of a select few who have flown in the Navy “Blue Angels” Flight Demonstration Squadron. McClain flew with the team for three years, the longest length of time allowable for service with the elite group of pilots.
The highly decorated naval aviator was in the Pentagon during the 9/11 attacks where he assisted in the rescue of numerous victims and was instrumental in directing the National Command Authority for Actions surrounding 9/11.
“I never thought the day would come where I would be called a veteran, Rear Admiral (Ret.) McClain told the assembled veterans at the Spanish Cove ceremony. “I thought I would be killed before I became a veteran. We’re all extremely proud and supportive of our men and women that are out in front of us and we are here to honor all veterans.”
Referring to the recent presidential election, McClain said, “I promise you our men and women who are serving today are pretty fired up and I truly believe that this country has been given another chance to get it right. There are some things we’ve got to fix in our country and I think we can now get on the path of doing that. One of the things that doesn’t need to be fixed is the spirit or our men and women that serve today because they’re exactly the same as we are and they’ll make you proud.”
McLain said he buried “62 of my guys” during his time in the naval service and that “every one of them was doing exactly what they knew they had to do.”
“They knew the danger, they knew what they getting ready to sacrifice not unlike you all,” he continued. “Only by the grace of God go we that we can sit here and celebrate their lives, we can celebrate their sacrifice and we can also celebrate ourselves being here as comrades in arms and understand the nation is grateful for our sacrifice. May God bless you all and my God continue to bless the United States of America.”