For Independence Day, ThinkAdvisor likes to dedicate at least a little space to an important group of financial advisors: military veterans. Not all stories by veterans are about hitting the beaches or dodging bullets; many are of the quiet moments before and after that action and over the course of many years of serving in the U.S. military.

ThinkAdvisor continues its five-year-old tradition of honoring advisors who served, whether in war or peace, with a follow to our Memorial Day slideshow for this Fourth of July weekend. This slideshow presents these advisors’ names, images and what they remember about or learned from their service. 

Jon Melges
(Picture above is during Desert Storm – Demolition prep of enemy mortar site)

Name: Jon Melges

Title/Company: Senior Vice President, Branch Manager, Managing Director / RJFS

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Sergeant E – 5 Promotable

Service Dates:  1990 – 1994

Work you did: Army Infantry

Brief story that stands out from your service time: While attached to Joint Task Force Bravo conducting remote site operations with the CIA in the mountains of Honduras, we came under a firebase alert. I grabbed my gear, ran to my position and tumbled into my assigned bunker. I looked over at my battle buddy who was wide-eyed and pressed up against the wall. I followed his line of site until I came upon a coral snake curled up in the grenade sump just to my left. At that point we were both more scared of what was inside the bunker than the rebels outside. For the next couple of hours, two grown men shared 10% of the fighting position and gave the snake the other 90%. When the all clear was given you probably never saw two soldiers move faster either.

Garth Flint

Name: Garth Flint

Title/Company: CEO, Co-Founder / Beacon Pointe Advisors

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Ensign – Lieutenant

Service Dates:  1963 – 1968

Work you did: Flew in F-4B Phantom II as Weapons Officer (RIO)

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Based on USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) with VF-161. Shot down over North Vietnam on 12/27/67 and subsequently rescued. Back in the air on 12/29/67. Tom Wolf wrote a detailed encounter about our experience, titled “The Truest Sport Jousting with Sam and Charlie.”

 (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

(Veterans Day parade of Air Force unit: Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Name: Anthony Favela

Title/Company: Wealth Manager / Creative Planning, Inc.

Branch: USMC and Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: SGT

Service Dates:  1995-2003;  2009-Present

Work you did: Assault Amphibious Vehicles and Operations

Brief story that stands out from your service time: On my way home back from deployment after being in the Persian Gulf and Africa for 6 months. I was standing on the LPD USS Deluth and floating into port to Pearl Harbor, it was the most beautiful sight I have ever seen. The American flag was waiving, wind was blowing and I was getting chills down my back. I realized truly for the first time how happy and humble I was to be an American and serving my country. I will never forget the first day I looked at the American flag differently and understood what it truly meant to be an American. Sempre Fi and Go Army!

Ralph Mitchell

Name: Ralph Mitchell

Title/Company: Principal Executive / Carthage Financial Group, LLC

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2LT – LTC

Service Dates:  1977 -  2007

Work you did: Infantry Officer / Military Intelligence / Logistician

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was named after my Dad who served as a Combat Infantryman during the Korean War and who was later killed in action while serving in Vietnam. The first time I went to “The Wall” in Washington, D.C., to see his name among the over 58,000 other names on that monument, it really struck a nerve and proves that our American FREEDOM is not free; but comes at a very heavy price that is paid by our military personnel and their immediate families.

Johnny W. Dawson

Name: Johnny W. Dawson

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Edward Jones

Branch: U.S. Marine Corps

Rank held at beginning of service and at end:  Private First Class / Corporal

Service Dates:  2003 – 2007

Work you did: Infantry / Squad Leader / 2nd Battalion 7th Marines 1st Marine Division

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Memorial Day is more than just recognition; it is about sacrifice, honor and remembrance. Each day, I can see the faces and hear the voices of the men who fought selflessly for their country and paid the ultimate price. I am honored to remember them on Memorial Day through a tradition we started a few years back. Each year, I take my three sons to plant flags to honor all of the men and women who have laid down their lives for our freedoms in this great country. Semper Fi.

 Dick Gootee

Name: Dick Gootee

Title/Company: CFP / Atherton Wealth Advisors

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 3rd class petty officer

Service Dates:  1960 – 1963

Work you did: Guided missile technician

Brief story that stands out from your service time: Initially had a misconception about great travel involved until I found out about having a billet (job) that came with it. After guided missile school, I spent 2 years on newly commissioned guided missile destroyer TRAVELING the high seas. Looking back it was in top 10 of defining life experiences.

David Hollands 

Name: David Hollands

Title/Company: President / Eagle Wealth Solutions

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2LT – COL

Service Dates:  1982 – 2012

Work you did: Artillery Officer

Brief story that stands out from your service time: In 2005 I was the Chief Financial Officer for the US Ambassador in Afghanistan, as a mobilized Army Reservist. I left 100 clients and one wife behind when I deployed. I lost one client and one wife during my tour, but when I returned I got the client back!

William Sweet 

Name: William Sweet

Title/Company: Investment Advisor / Ritholtz Wealth Management

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Lieutenant – Captain

Service Dates:  2002 – 2007

Work you did: Armor Officer

Brief story that stands out from your service time: My last three years in the Army were spent as a Basic Training Company Commander. I was the officer in charge of a few dozen of the Army’s best NCOs (Drill Sergeants). Whenever we would have a formation and I’d get to talk to the entire company, I could never stop thinking about how representative the Army is from across the nation — in few other places will you see collected up kids from Alaska to Arkansas, from Maine to Hawaii — all thrown together and asked to work together even though they know nothing about each other. And the funny thing was that there was this underlying common bond that connected everyone who volunteered — it’s a little hokey, but that love of country, the desire to serve, the want to be a part of something greater than yourself.

I’d look out on the formation and think that these are the best the country has all gathered together to accomplish something meaningful — to protect and defend what most of us take for granted on a daily basis. To watch kids that could barely understand each other’s accents at the beginning of basic turn to lifelong friends by the end was something that I always admired. And it was folks from all walks of life — soldiers who barely graduated high school from the deep south alongside highly-educated, smart leaders like my colleague Patrick Haley and my friend Wes Gray — we all speak the same language deep down. It’s a real thing.

Cory Hixson in Tough Mudder race 

Name: Cory L. Hixson

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Edward Jones

Branch: U.S. Marine Corps

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Private First Class / Sergeant

Service Dates:  2001 – 2005

Work you did: Mortarman (Infantry) / Security Forces / Martial Arts Instructor / Scout Sniper Platoon, H & S Co., 1st Battalion 8th Marines

Brief story that stands out from your service time: A couple years back, the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) contacted the alumni in our region to see if we would be interested in doing a Tough Mudder race. I immediately signed up. Having been out of the Marines for several years, I had been wanting to do something fun and reminiscent of the obstacle courses we had to regularly run during training. In all, I think we had nearly 25 Wounded Warriors on our team, including a double-leg amputee. It rained all day, so the entire course became a muddy challenge to navigate (not just the obstacles) and it took us longer than expected, but we started the course as a team and 11 miles and 25 obstacles later, we finished as a team. All the while we took turns carrying the WWP flag as our guidon. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fellow veterans, represent a great cause, and show we still had what it took to conquer the Tough Mudder!

Louis DeCuir

Name: Louis DeCuir

Title/Company: Financial Advisor & Account Executive / Investor Securities Group

Branch: U.S. Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Ensign / Captain

Service Dates:  1979 – 2009

Work you did: Surface Warfare Officer

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was in an indoctrination flight, and got airsick. I didn’t want to throw up all over the cockpit, so I used my glove! I knew then that I didn’t want to be an aviator. Patrick Giddens

Name: Patrick Giddens

Title/Company: Lead Advisor / Johnson Lyman Wealth Advisors

Branch: USAF, USAFR

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2Lt – Lt Col

Service Dates:  1983 – 2011

Work you did: Communications, Contracting

Brief story that stands out from your service time: While stationed in Torrejon, Spain, I closely worked with the Spanish civilian phone company for all of the communications needs for the base. A high urgent request came in to install a phone immediately for the general’s home, but my Spanish counterparts told me it would take over a week. But, due to my negotiation skills of offering 6 packs of American beer, we got the line installed in two days!

Shane P. Dooley

Name: Shane P. Dooley

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / LPL Financial

Branch: U.S. Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E-1 – E-4(P)

Service Dates:  1985 – 1990

Work you did: Radio Teletype Communications

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I miss the way the military community helps its own. No one in the civilian world can truly understand how hard it is to move around the globe. Processing in and out of other countries is only possible because of the help provided by people who are not sure they remember your name yet. :)

Name: Patrick Beagle

Title/Company: CEO / Managing Owner / WealthCrest Financial Services LLC

Branch:  U.S. Marine Corps.

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Lt – Colonel

Service Dates:  1979 – 2004

Work you did: enlisted, then commissioned. Pilot

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I could tell stories all day but by far the most touching was the loss of a dear friend and colleague in an aircraft crash. Watching his widowed wife give birth to a child that would never know her father. Handing her the flag in one hand while she cradled her child. Understanding at that moment the true cost of service to our country and the sacrifices that are made by those that serve, not just in combat, but every day in preparation for something that may never be.

– Check out the other years where ThinkAdvisor honored Advisors Who Serve(d).

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