This is ThinkAdvisor’s sixth version of the Advisors Who Serve(d) slideshow, each of which we’ve debuted over Memorial Day weekend and repeated on July 4th and Veterans Day. And this year we highlight and honor 14 veterans in the advisory world.
One advisor who served in the Navy for many years and is still active in the reserves had mulled submitting his story but decided against it because he believed, as he said in an email, “it wasn’t the appropriate thing to do on Memorial Day.” He had a compelling reason and one that we should remember about military service. He explained that Memorial Day is about those who have fallen in battle, not those who served and are still alive — that is for Veterans Day, and Armed Forces Day is to honor those currently serving.
ThinkAdvisor initially chose Memorial Day because, for better or worse, it is a three-day holiday weekend, with parades and barbecues and it’s when most of America is focused on the military, whether on those departed or those still with us. So we hope we’ve educated you somewhat, as the naval vet urged us, about these important holidays.
Name: Monte Clark Ferguson
Title/Company: Pivotal Financial Advisors LLC
Branch: US Army Aviation
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2LT – CPT
Service Dates: 1987 – 1995
Work you did: Helicopter Pilot
Brief story that stands out from your service time: For those in the aviation world this story will cause you to scratch your head on weight/balance but for the rest of the world … just kinda cool. I was a platoon leader in Desert Storm with Nomad Troop, 4th Squadron 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, proud Dragoons, where we acquired white and pink paint to attempt to blend in with surroundings. The picture says the rest as we had a great time painting the old Cobras … awesome airframe and a tremendous group of patriots! Best to all.
Name: Chris Kojak
Title/Company: Director of Operations – Lincoln Park Financial Group
Branch: US Air Force
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2nd Lieutenant – Major
Service Dates: 2003- 2016 US Air Force Active Duty; 2016 – Present US Air Force Reserves
Work you did: Office and Pilot
Brief story that stands out from your service time: The feeling of flying troops home to see their families after months of being away from loved ones is priceless. It helps you remember that day and night people span the globe sacrificing for our freedoms and well-being.
I will also never take for granted the camaraderie that is found in the military. It is like nothing else in this world. You have an immediate bond with all your brothers and sisters in arms. When it comes down to it, you are there to stand shoulder to shoulder with the person next to you. No matter what awaits over the horizon.
Name: Michael Gold
Title/Company: Summit Brokerage Services/MG Squared Investments
Branch: US Marine Corps.
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Private / Corporal
Service Dates: 1966 – 1969
Work you did: Helicopter/Jet Avionics
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Sgt Dallas Shelton served with me and we did not get along. He constantly assigned me duties that were at the bottom of the barrel. I literally hated him. On one of the first flights of Marine Helicopter Squadron, 463, Sgt. Shelton’s helicopter crashed and he was killed. I didn’t care, I disliked him that much. Years later when the Vietnam wall was built I was compelled to go find his name. I went to Washington and found it. I cried. I told him I was sorry for hating him. He was a great Marine and I think about him often.
Name: Jennifer Ziegler
Title/Company: Vice President – Morgan Stanley
Branch: US Naval Reserve
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E1 and E5
Service Dates: 1993 – 1999
Work you did: Personnel and benefits
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I worked at the US Embassy in London for 4 years. I enjoyed helping, so service members could go home to the States to take their leave. Everyone in the military treated you like family.
Name: Kevin Laraia
Title/Company: Chief Strategy Officer – Docupace Technologies
Branch: US Air Force
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Cadet / Captain
Service Dates: 1986 – 1992
Work you did: Weather Officer
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I served as a Weather Officer at Offutt Air Force Base, Omaha, Nebraska, where I briefed the 4-star General responsible for all strategic forces and also provided weather support for all flights in an out of the base. I also flew as the weather officer on the “Looking Glass,” an EC-135 that flew 24/7 from 1961 to 1990.
Finally, I was stationed in Suwon, South Korea as a 1st Lieutenant and was the youngest commander in the U.S. Weather Service at the time. The four years I spent at the US Air Force Academy were an incredible experience. In addition to learning about teamwork and all of the lifelong friends I made, the thing that stands out the most about the Air Force Academy is the Honor Code – “I will not lie, steal or cheat, nor tolerate anyone who does” – something that we learned to live by and stays with me still today.
Name: Bailey B. Bartee
Title/Company: Senior Vice President – Investment Officer – Wells Fargo Advisors
Branch: US Army National Guard
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2nd Lieutenant to Captain
Service Dates: 1996 – 2005
Work you did: Field Artillery Officer
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Work completed during Operation Iraqi Freedom II and multiple Hurricane mobilizations.
Name: John Cunningham
Title/Company: Chief Information Security Officer – Docupace Technologies
Branch: US Army/Army Reserve
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Private / Captain
Service Dates: 1984 – 2001
Work you did: Military Police
Brief story that stands out from your service time: During Gulf War I, I played a key role in saving the lives of three Iraqi children that were thrown from a car that hit a bomb crater.
At another point during the war, I was the deputy commander of a unit responsible for guarding 4,000+ prisoners of war and civilian detainees.
Name: Sean Barrett
Title/Company: Co-Founder – Cornerstone Family Office
Branch: US Navy
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Ensign – Lieutenant