COLUMBUS, Ohio –
Inside an auditorium filled to standing room capacity, more than 500 DLA associates, family members and friends gathered to say goodbye to DLA Land and Maritime Deputy Commander James McClaugherty at his July 20th retirement ceremony.
McClaugherty’s special guests included three former Land and Maritime commanders – including new Defense Logistics Agency Director Lt. Gen. Darrell Williams and the current Land and Maritime Commander, Navy Rear Admiral Michelle Skubic, Senior Executive Service members, congressional representatives, both DLA and Land and Maritime Hall of Fame inductees, local officials and Defense Supply Center Columbus associates. More than 30 of McClaugherty’s family members traveled from across the country to support him as he closed out his federal service career.
The ceremony included a nostalgic slideshow reflecting McClaugherty’s 47 years of federal service; 30 as an Air Force officer and 17 as a civilian. Personal family photos and those chronicling relationships forged during numerous military assignments revealed more of McClaugherty’s history to associates in attendance.
Skubic spoke about McClaugherty’s transformational contributions to the Land and Maritime mission and the impact he had on improving the workforce environment. “Today is one of those milestones that every one of us in this room works towards as a career concludes,” Skubic said.
Sometimes during our journey, a few of us – like Jim – get to fully blossom professionally – and while doing so experience the opportunity to personally influence and positively touch the lives of coworkers and peers along the way.”
Williams reflected on his time as Land and Maritime commander and the unwavering support McClaugherty provided. He said today is a very special day for the Land and Maritime family because we’re celebrating a great story.
“It's a story of accomplishment, longevity, endurance, sustained excellence, superior performance and -- dare I say it -- even love,” Williams recounted as he reminded everyone that the McClaugherty's were celebrating their 23rd anniversary on the same day of his retirement. Williams led the Land and Maritime gathering in a Happy Anniversary chorus to celebrate the moment.
“Jim is not your ordinary senior leader. He’s an iconic figure around the Agency. He earned the reputation as the “soul of DLA” because of his integrity, dedication to the mission and unwavering commitment toward bettering the workforce culture at DLA Land and Maritime,” Williams said.
In celebration of their anniversary McClaugherty presented 23 roses to his wife, as well as roses for each of the ladies in his family and his executive support staff. As he launched into what he dubbed his last PowerPoint presentation, McClaugherty talked about the personnel bench strength at Land and Maritime and the important contribution every associate made in stellar mission support efforts like the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle (MRAP). “Improvised Explosive Devices were inflicting increasing injuries to our troops and DLA’s participation in the swift fielding of the MRAP is reported to have saved the lives of an estimated 30,000 U.S. service members. Critical work dramatically accomplished right here in Columbus. My favorite feel good moment,” he explained.
McClaugherty also detailed Culture initiatives that energized workforce improvement efforts. He linked the rise of DLA Land and Maritime as one of the premiere performing organizations in the Department of Defense directly to the organization’s culture efforts.
Once McClaugherty stood at the podium to address his fellow associates the reality of the moment surfaced as his voice softened. He delivered many personal words of appreciation to family, mentors and friends who were instrumental in his career success; his wife Emerald leading the list.
Touching on the many Land and Maritime successes during his tenure McClaugherty was consistent in pointing out the key ingredient to those successes was the dedicated Land and Maritime workforce. “The superior support we provide to our military services is only achievable through the selfless efforts you’ve made every day, it’s your shoulders that we stand on in greatness and I want to thank each and every one of you for that,” said McClaugherty.
Regina Westbrook, an accomplished jazz singer and Land and Maritime Hall of Famer performed a surprise solo – “Up to the Mountain”. A song she said was inspired by McClaugherty’s indomitable spirit.
In a combined statement of appreciation James and Emerald McClaugherty left these parting words to their Land and Maritime family – “… we don’t know where the finish line will be. Regardless, our 22 year run with you has been one of the most enjoyable and fulfilling periods in our lives.”