WASHINGTON -- Two combatant commanders embrace Mark Twain’s quote: “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.”
Navy Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, turned the Old Goat Award over to Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd, the commander of U.S. Southern Command, during a short, unofficial ceremony at the Joint Staff today.
Like Twain, they just keep on going.
The Old Goat Award is a crystal decanter given to the oldest U.S. Naval Academy graduate still on active duty. The initials and class years of past holders are engraved on the decanter. Both Harris and Tidd graduated from the academy in 1978. Two other classmates -- retired admirals Mark Ferguson and Cecil Haney -- were also Old Goats.
The tradition started with retired Rear Adm. Alton Stock, who graduated from the Naval Academy in 1972.
“The award is all about service to the nation and to the Navy,” said Navy Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the Naval Academy superintendent, during the ceremony. Navy Adm. John M. Richardson, the chief of naval operations and a member of the Class of 1982, also attended the ceremony.
Long-Serving Old Goats
The Navy has had some officers who give meaning to the term Old Goat, Carter noted. These include the service’s first admiral, David Farragut, who served 60 years in uniform, and Adm. George Dewey, the academy’s first flag officer, who graduated from the academy in 1858 and served until he died in 1917.
“Old Goats ought to be seen and not heard, so I am not going to say much at all, except to say that the older-looking of the Class of ’78 is receiving this,” Harris said with a smile.
Tidd thanked his classmate. “The recipient is a little bit like the role of a body at an Irish wake: Nobody expects him to say very much, but the party doesn’t start without him,” Tidd said. “I will gladly accept this on behalf of all of our classmates. But Harry: Godspeed shipmate!”
Harris will hang onto the title until he retires. President Donald J. Trump has nominated the admiral to be America’s ambassador to Australia.