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Honoring Advisors Who Serve(d): July 4th, 2013

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On Memorial Day, the nation paused to remember those who, in the words of Abraham Lincoln, gave “the last full measure of devotion.” AdvisorOne honored those advisors and partners to advisors—and one famous non-advisor who influences the advisory world, PIMCO’s Bill Gross—who served in the armed forces of the United States.

This is the third year we’ve published this slideshow that is meant, in a small way, to thank all those who served their country. For this Fourth of July edition we’re featuring seven “new” advisors and four from previous Advisors Who Serve(d) slideshows.

We’ve created a special landing page for you to view our previous slideshows as well. The seven new people on the following pages responded to our call this year to share the particulars of their service—some in the past and some still serving—and, in most instances, some photos of themselves when they were in service. 

Most telling to us, however, were the vets’ responses to how their military service helped prepared them for their advisory careers. We began this series of slideshows in 2011 because anecdotally there seemed to be a large percentage of advisors, both men and women, who had served in one of the branches of the military over the years but in many cases had not received the appreciation they were due for their service.

The comments of this group on their military experiences speak for themselves—profound and humorous, patriotic and often self-deprecating, but humbly proud of their service as well.

(Check out previous Advisors Who Serve(d) installments from 2011 and 2012 for Memorial Day and Fourth of July.)

John Grover WilsonName: John Grover Wilson

Title/Company: Managing Director, Senior Investment Advisor — Raymond James & Associates

Branch: USAF-retired

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Lt. at beginning, Col. at the end

Service Dates: 1968-1992

Work you did: Fighter Pilot, F-4, RF-4 and others

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Hold the Air Medal (2) and Distinguished Flying Cross from serving in Vietnam. I’m presently the Chief Chaplain of the Volunteer State Veterans Honor Guard. In my spare time, I presided over 250 military funerals with honor. I am presently on the steering committee for the Medal of Honor Society Conference in 2014 to be held in Knoxville. Flew two tours in SEA. Funny story: I was a White House Social Aide during the Nixon administration.

David S. ChangName: David S. Chang

Title/Company: President, CEO — WealthBridge

Branch: Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Cadet; Major

Service Dates: 1998-2008 (Active duty) 2009 to Present (Hawaii Army National Guard)

Work you did: West Point Cadet, Armor Officer, Ground Scout Platoon Leader, Military Intelligence Officer

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I spent 15 months in Northern Iraq. The work hours were grueling but what made life bearable were the soldiers I served with, we were all one big happy family. I knew that my XO (executive officer) went to high school with Rachael Ray. He knew I was a big fan of hers, especially since I am an eater! During Christmas my XO brought me up to the front of our commanders and staff after a normal meeting and surprised me with an autographed photo of Rachael Ray made out to me! It was one of the best Christmas gifts I got, I am very appreciative that he took the time to reach out to her and she in turn took time to write to me. It was a definite morale booster!

John Thomas DeutschName: John Thomas Deutsch

Title/Company: Senior VP, Investments — Raymond James & Associates

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Seaman to CWO(4)

Service Dates: 1962-1985

Work you did: Avionics Commissioned Warrant Officer W-4

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Too many great shipmates and funny stories for one to stand out but, late in my career, I served on the USS Coral Sea CV-43. Our Battle Group as well as the Nimitz’s were stationed in the Indian Ocean in support of the Iranian hostages rescue attempt on Aug. 24, 1980. Tragically, the operation was unsuccessful and ended with the loss of aircraft and eight US service members. Memorably, I was walking on the flight deck with support attack aircraft fully loaded out after midnight when our Captain, Dick Dunleavy, announced on the 1MC that we would be standing down because of the failed outcome. That was one of the first publicized uses of special forces to effect U.S. policy objectives. Today, 30 years hence, both Iran and heroic special forces operators remain in our daily headlines and in my memory.

Kevin HottName: Kevin Hott

Title/Company: Financial Advisor — Merrill Lynch

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E1-E4/Seaman Recruit to Petty Officer Third Class

Service Dates: 1997-2001

Work you did: Gas Turbine Systems Electrician

Brief story that stands out from your service time: The first morning after arriving at Recruit Training Center Great Lakes I found myself being awoken abruptly by the Drill Instructor. He was screaming in my face, nose-to-nose, after I overslept by a “few minutes.” I learned quickly when you’re the only one not in formation you get the wrong kind of attention. While we were deployed in the Mediterranean, I remember the roller coaster of emotions we experienced when we all learned of the USS Cole bombing. Oh, and how can I forget the swim call we had in the middle of the Mediterranean? When you have folks jumping off the side of a destroyer into 13,000 feet of water it’s not a pleasant experience when you’re in the water and realize the ship isn’t completely stopped.  David LatchName: David Latch

Title/Company: President — Frederick Advisors

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  E-3, O-4

Service Dates: 1977-1999

Work you did: Aircraft Maintenance, then Medical Logistics

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was nearing the end of my first enlistment and was unsure about re-enlisting. My NCIOC, whom I really didn’t think much of, told me to write down the pros and cons of both staying in and getting out. Once I did that, I became a “lifer.”

James SchwartzName: James Schwartz

Title/Company: Senior Advisor — Strategic Wealth Advisors

Branch: U.S. Air Force

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2nd Lt to Captain

Service Dates: 1985-1997

Work you did: A-10 and F-16 Fighter Pilot

Brief story that stands out from your service time: The first year in the USAF was spent in pilot training near Del Rio, Texas. While learning to fly the T-37, student pilots must become proficient in acrobatics, including loops, barrel rolls and split-S’s. The split-S is a maneuver where the pilot rolls the jet upside down then pulls back on the stick forcing the jet to fly straight down then continue to a level flight path heading the opposite direction (think of the second half of a loop). As I went through my split-S maneuver and the nose of the aircraft was going straight down toward the earth, my instructor, sitting to my right, said, “Jim, you better pull a little harder.”

And so I did—probably a little too quickly and a little too hard. The G’s (acceleration one feels on their body at the bottom of a roller coaster) increased from zero to 3, then 4, and finally 5. At 5 G’s a 150-pound person weighs 750 pounds! Well, my instructor wasn’t prepared for such a quick transition to 5 G’s and he passed out! I finished my split-S back to level flight but it took my instructor some time to regain consciousness and figure out where he was (later he divulged to me that when he came to he thought we had crashed). At this point the flight was over (due to the loss of consciousness episode) and I flew him back to the base where after two days he was back in the saddle. As I look back at that incident, as a new student pilot, I have to say I was a little scared when I realized my instructor (the person I counted on to be there when I screwed up) had lost consciousness and it was up to me to bring him home. Robert Peterson with co-worker Barb EmenhiserName: Robert S. Peterson

Title/Company: Vice President, Investments — Raymond James & Associates

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Pvt. to Sergeant

Service Dates: 1970-1973

Work you did: Military Intelligence, Linguist

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was trained as an interrogator and a linguist in Laotian. I spent most of my time teaching English to foreign nationals.

Bill Gross (left) standing tall in the bridge.Name: Bill Gross

Title/Company: PIMCO - founder and co-chief investment officer

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: LT JG – Lieutenant, Junior Grade

Service Dates:  1967 – 1970

Work you did: N/A

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I arrived at the Pensacola Naval Air Station ready to fulfill my enlistment and ready to become a fighter pilot. And like all raw recruits, we were put in the capable hands of a drill sergeant. Remember, the drill sergeant’s duty is to humiliate and harass us to the breaking point and beyond. And me, the cocky college boy, was so shaken by the experience that it was one of the military moments I remember most vividly. I spent half the night cleaning my rifle, and failing the inspections nonetheless. It took me so long to make up my bunk to my sergeant’s specifications that I slept on the floor. I did push-ups and chin-ups and marched and ran obstacle courses but my sergeant was never satisfied. “You’ll never fly a jet Mr. Gross!,” he screamed. “BLIMPS are more your style!” I ended up flying neither.

Meredith Schneider in Bosnia

Meredith Schneider

Title/Company: Principal — Schneider Wealth Management

Branch/Rank: US Army – 2nd Lt through Captain

Service Dates: June ’92 – Aug. ’96

Work you did: Platoon Leader, Maintenance Officer, S-1, Civil Affairs Officer

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I am honored to have had the opportunity to meet so many people from all over the country who served with great dedication. I will never forget the “Any Solider” letters we received while in Bosnia. Some days they were the only link to life outside of our tents since we had no phone, television, newspaper, Internet, and often no mail from loved ones. I remember a letter in particular from a young boy in Rhode Island who wrote in reply to a letter I wrote back to him. He wrote, “Receiving your letter was the happiest day of my life.” Little did he know how happy I was to receive his letter of support.

Harold Evensky

Harold Evensky

One of the few people in the advisor community who is identified by one name, like a Brazilian soccer player, Evensky is the chairman and cofounder of the wealth management firm of Evensky & Katz in Coral Gables, Fla. He is the author of numerous books, is now an adjunct professor at Texas Tech University and among his honors has been membership of the IA25. But Harold is also a veteran, serving in the Medical Corps of the U.S. Army as a Captain from 1968-1971.

Joni Youngwirth

Joni Youngwirth

Folks from Commonwealth Financial Network know Youngwirth quite well, as do other advisors who have benefited from her practice management knowledge delivered in speeches at national conferences, or who have read some of her prescriptions in the pages of Investment Advisor, for instance. 

They may know of her practical, disciplined bent when it comes to practice management, but what they may not know is that this partner to advisors previously served with the U.S. Air Force, rising to the rank of first lieutenant.

Youngwirth is Commonwealth Financial Network’s managing principal, practice management, and a regular contributor to Investment Advisor.


Check out previous Advisors Who Serve(d) installments from 2011 and 2012 for Memorial Day and Fourth of July.

We know there are more of you out there who served, so please consider adding your name and story to the growing list of Advisors Who Serve(d) by filling out this simple questionnaire at AdvisorOne.