Local men retire after decades of service in Navy

2013-07-03T20:30:00Z 2013-07-04T14:48:59Z Local men retire after decades of service in NavyDavid P. Funk and Elvia Malagon Times Staff nwitimes.com
July 03, 2013 8:30 pm  • 

Two local men were honored in June for their years of service as officers in the U.S. Navy.

Homewood native Patrick Driscoll retired June 20 after 34 years in the Navy. Gerald Beaman, a Hammond native, retired in June after 35 years of service. Beaman was a vice admiral of the U.S. 3rd Fleet.

Driscoll retired with the rank of rear admiral, serving as deputy commander and chief of staff of the Pacific fleet since March 2012. He was based in Pearl Harbor.

"As a naval officer and aviator, it's been exhilarating, awe-inspiring, frightening, educating and heartbreaking," Driscoll said June 20 during his retirement ceremony aboard the USS Arizona Memorial.

Beaman became commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet in 2011 and helped lead humanitarian missions, according to a news release. He was also the commander during the 2012 Rim of the Pacific, the world's largest maritime exercise. He served in Operation Desert Storm and Operation Southern Watch.

"They are the finest group of leaders and warriors that I have served with," Beaman said in a prepared statement. "I continue to be humbled by the professionalism in which they command 3rd Fleet sailors."

Beaman graduated from Marquette University and he became a designated naval flight officer in 1975. He also graduated from the Naval War College. He previously worked as a special agent for the FBI.

He was presented with the Distinguished Service Medal by Adm. Cecil Haney, commander of U.S. Pacific Fleet.

"He has ensured our forces are ready to meet the demand of this uncertain world we live in," Haney said.

Haney described Driscoll in a news release as a passionate leader and dedicated father.

"As a highly decorated naval aviator, his flying career is the stuff of legends," Haney said. "Whenever our nation was in need of air warriors, Pat Driscoll answered the call to fly and lead in combat."

Driscoll graduated from the University of Illinois in 1978 and entered the Navy the following year. He also holds a master's degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

He logged more than 5,000 flight hours, including more than 1,200 aircraft carrier landings, serving combat missions in during the first Gulf War, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Bosnia and Afghanistan. He was named Atlantic Fleet strike pilot of the year in 1983. His awards include the Legion of Merit with four gold stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Combat V, three Bronze stars and the Defense Meritorious Service medal.

"(Driscoll) provided important insights that continue to influence how we engage and how we advocate for improved capability in the U.S. Pacific Fleet," Haney said. "(His) leadership has made our Navy better and will have a lasting impact on the people (he has) led over (his) career."

Driscoll also served as flight leader and commanding officer of the Blue Angels during the 1999 and 2000 show seasons.

"There is not a day that goes by that I don't think about my friends and my shipmates that I flew with that were not nearly as lucky as me; those that did not make it back to the carrier, that did not make it back to their families," Driscoll said. "They did not have the opportunity to help raise their children and take care of their parents."

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