Coming full circle, Navy Captain retires where it all began

By James Harless DLA Land and Maritime Public Affairs

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Navy Captain Jeffrey A. Schmidt celebrated 35 years of military service during a retirement ceremony at the Mission Park Pavilion July 15 at the Defense Supply Center Columbus.

In his final assignment, Schmidt served as the director of Maritime Supplier Operations for the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime where he was responsible for running Land and Maritime’s largest directorate. Schmidt led more than 600 acquisition professionals in awarding over 180,000 contracts annually, valued at more than $1.9 billion, in support of over 1.5 million components for the U.S. Armed Forces and allies. 

While being presented with the Defense Superior Service Medal Schmidt was recognized for leading by example, setting high standards and partnering with his more than 600 associates to ensure they were empowered and felt responsible to execute their jobs.

As a result of his leadership and commitment to our nation’s warfighters, the readiness of our military forces and industrial repair facilities reached unprecedented levels.

“Schmidt openly encouraged his personnel to challenge the status quo, question the norm and seek to always improve the process.  A champion for his people, he aggressively sought to reward and recognize his staff, resulting in three local and more than 20 enterprise-wide individual and team awards,” officials stated in his Defense Superior Service Medal award narrative.

Schmidt, alumnus of Penn State University and the Naval Postgraduate School, was born in New Jersey, but moved to Eastern Pennsylvania as a young child, initially enlisted in the Navy as a way to pay for college. 

“I had heard of the BOOST – Broadened Opportunity for Officer Selection and Training – Program,” Schmidt said.  “So, right after boot camp I attended BOOST for a year.  Upon completion, I earned a ROTC scholarship commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy Supply Corps in Columbus, Ohio, in 1993.”
 A career later, he is retiring in Columbus close to where it all began.

Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime and DSCC Commander Navy Rear Adm. John Palmer presided over the ceremony just two days before his very own retirement.

“This is a time-honored tradition where we’re able to say goodbye to one of our own and thank him for his dedication and sacrifices that he and his family have made over the years,” Palmer said. “Not very often does a career start and finish in the same place.”

In addition to receiving The Defense Superior Service Medal, a Certificate of Appreciation from the Commander in Chief, and various letters of recognition from former Presidents of the United States and Governor of Ohio, Schmidt was presented with a personalized DLA flag on behalf of his directorate by Palmer.

When asked what lasting words of wisdom he would like to share with his shipmates as he departs for shore for the last time Schmidt responded with “Never sell yourself short- be aggressive, open and honest…You got this!”

During the ceremony it became evident that Schmidt’s accomplishments throughout his distinguished career was a direct reflection upon himself, the Navy and the Department of Defense.

The ceremony concluded with one of the oldest traditions of the United States Navy, when  Schmidt was honored with a final salute as he was piped ashore. The piping over the side ceremony is rooted deeply in Naval tradition. Upon completing a career in the sea service, retiring mariners step ashore through the ranks of honorary Side Boys to the sounds of the Boatswains pipe. The service members serving as Side Boys did so voluntarily to show their respect and admiration for Schmidt.

Schmidt’s career included assignments with the  Office of Military Cooperation in Kuwait; Defense Distribution Depot and Fleet Logistics Center in Sigonella, Italy, the Fleet Industrial Supply Center at Puget Sound, Washington.; Assault Craft Unit Five; the Naval Support Activity Gaeta in Italy; and assignments aboard USS Bridge and USS Jack Williams.