This is ThinkAdvisor’s sixth year of the Advisors Who Serve(d) slideshow, and each time we’ve debuted this over Memorial Day weekend and then ran it on July 4th and Veterans Day. Over this past Memorial Day we highlighted 17 veterans in the advisory world and this Fourth of July we highlight and honor 24 other advisors.
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 chose Memorial Day to debut its yearly story 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, those departed and those still with us. So we hope we’ve educated you somewhat, as the naval vet urged us, about these important holidays.
Name: Sandra Cho
Title/Company: CEO / Pointwealth Capital Management
Branch: US Navy Reserve
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E3 – E2
Service Dates: 2002 -2005
Work you did: Mass Communications
Brief story that stands out from your service time: The commander of my reserve unit was a former Navy fighter pilot. We stayed in touch for 15 years. He is an executive at a Fortune 500 company now and recently became my client and close friend.
Name: Sean D. Gass
Title/Company: Portfolio Manager / Merrill Lynch
Branch: US Navy
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Ensign – Lieutenant Commander
Service Dates: 1993-2003
Work you did: Submarine Warfare Officer
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Leading the color guard detail on the USS Arizona Memorial on December 7, 1999 – and having the chance to personally welcome aboard surviving members of the crew, listening to their stories as they stood above their sunken ship and fallen shipmates.
Name: Wayne Williams
Title/Company: Money Manager / Professional Advisory Services
Branch: US Navy
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Seaman – Radioman 2nd Class
Service Dates: 1958-1961
Work you did: Radioman 2nd Class
Brief story that stands out from your service time: As a very poor lad from Tennessee, I could not wait to join the Navy and see the world. Thirteen days after high school graduation at age 17, I signed up and left the woods and the chicken house I was raised in. While in high school I was Elvis Presley’s paperboy at Graceland.
I signed up in Little Rock, Arkansas, and flew to San Diego in 1958 for training in how to march, how to fold underwear and keep a perfect bed. While in training camp my mother called to tell me I had to come home. A college track coach had called to offer me a full college scholarship to run track. My Drill Instructor made fun of me to the whole barracks since I was a mama’s boy! As the outstanding athlete in my high school I was in a perfect situation to use those abilities throughout my tour of duty literally around the world.
After a tour in the Asia waters, I returned to San Diego to study in the Radiomen Electronics Class A School. I scored the 4th highest in the history of this school dating from WWII and was allowed to serve any duty in the world of the U.S. Navy. I chose a supply ship out of Norfolk, Virginia. To my joy, the US Alcor was the first atomic supply ship in the Navy.
We would take Polaris missiles to Scotland every 4 months to load on the submarines while they watched the Russians. In 1960 the Senior Fleet Admiral requested me to serve as his ship’s communication officer. He took me on the NATO exercises in the North Atlantic with France, the US, and England. I had to communicate with the War Fleet Admiral, aircraft carrier in Morse code. The two of us (radiomen) were apparently the best in the Navy at receiving and sending Morse code.
While at the radio school in San Diego, a Christian chaplain introduced me to Jesus Christ and it wasn’t long before the ship’s captain told me to lead a service every Sunday while at sea. That is the single reason I did not sign up to extend my tour of duty. I had to go to Bible School! While at Bible School I led a team of college students to hold a service for sailors on the ships while they were in port. Those sailors loved seeing college girls on board. Some even paid attention to my attempt of preaching.
I give credit to the US Navy for repairing every bad tooth in my mouth, serving me the best food I had ever tasted, giving me the opportunity to tell others about Christ, traveling me around the world to see countries I could only hope to see in books. May God bless the US Navy and the greatest fleet for peace in the world!
Name: Steve Sant
Title/Company: CFP / Premier Wealth Management
Branch: US Navy
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E-1 - E-5
Service Dates: 1973 – 1977
Work you did: Air Traffic Control
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Responsible for saving the lives of 3 pilots in 2 separate incidents: Coordinated the rescue of an F-14 Tomcat pilot and REO that punched out over the Pacific just south of Miramar. Virtually identical to the Top Gun movie, only 20 years earlier. Both survived.
Second incident was an F-4 Phantom approaching the USS Kitty Hawk way out in the Pacific. During flight he lost all instrumentation, but the controls were responsive. I was on final control, in constant communication, advising whether right or left, and above or below glide-path. The runway was moving 32 mph while see-sawing up and down and tilting left and right and he’s flying a brick at high speed. His hook miraculously caught a wire on the first attempt.
I received a letter of commendation for both events.
Name: T.J. Whalen
Title/Company: VP Life Division / Financial Independence Group
Branch: US Army
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2LT / MAJ
Service Dates: 1995 – 2001
Work you did: Finance and Artillery Officer
Brief story that stands out from your service time: We once had an Air Force A-10 bomber drop a 500-lb bomb on our position in Bosnia (friendly fire). It knocked my Forward Observer out of his 20 foot high observation post. He walked away without a scratch. He’d only been in country a week. He went to chapel services every single day after that incident until the end of the deployment! We’d always joke with him that the Air Force helped him find God.
Name: Nate George
Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Edward Jones
Branch: US Army 3rd Infantry Regiment
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E1-E4
Service Dates: 2000 – 2003
Work you did: Airborne Infantry
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was sent to the Pentagon on 9/11 as a first responder and tasked with casualty recovery. I remember running through the streets of Washington, D.C., in formation past gridlocked traffic on the 14th Street bridge so we could get to our base, grab our gear and head to the Pentagon. In a full hazmat suit with a breathing apparatus I saw things over the next three months that can’t be unseen.
But the kindness and the enduring American spirit that I witnessed is something I will remember for the rest of my life. We saw citizens with giant American flags passing by our post dozens of times to show support. And in the months that followed one of the greatest honors of my life was laying those heroes/victims of the attacks to rest in Arlington National Cemetery, as is the duty of the 3rd Infantry Regiment. It is a true privilege to serve this great country of ours.
Name: John Eckel
Title/Company: President / Pinnacle Investment Management Inc
Branch: US Army
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2nd LT / 1st LT
Service Dates: 1968 – 1970
Work you did: Signal Officer / Platoon Leader
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was serving in Vietnam the same time as Mike, a close friend, although we were in different locations. One day I learned that Mike was in a nearby hospital and was being “medi-vaced” out of Vietnam. I rushed to the hospital only to learn that the reason Mike was being sent back to the States was that he had high blood pressure and was otherwise fine. As we talked, the “incoming” siren sounded so we dived under our Mike’s bed and continued our conversation in what could have been a scene from M*A*S*H.
Name: Dennis Kaminski
Title/Company: Summit Brokerage Services
Branch: US Air Force
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Airman – Staff Sgt.
Service Dates: 1968 – 1972
Work you did: Military Air Police
Brief story that stands out from your service time: On a flight over the Sea of Japan our C-130 unexpectedly started to plunge towards the ocean. Scrambling to get our parachutes on, I noticed my good friend trying to get his chute on which became tangled and twisted. He screamed, we’re going to make it aren’t we? I shouted back, well I think one of us is! Fortunately the plane leveled out and we landed safely, had a lot of beers and laughs!
Name: Thomas Roe Oldt
Title/Company: Thomas R. Oldt Investment Services LLC
Branch: US Navy
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: SA – CYN3
Service Dates: 1967-1973
Work you did: Communications Yeoman
Brief story that stands out from your service time: My service was nothing compared to my childhood friends from Winter Haven who lost their lives in Vietnam: Richard Hood, Johnny Hays and Richard Coleman.
Name: George Harsh
Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Summit Brokerage
Branch: USAR, Infantry Officer
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2LT – 1LT
Service Dates: 1970 – 1972
Work you did: Infantry Platoon Leader, Company Executive Officer
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I was in The Old Guard, stationed at Ft. Meyer, Virginia. We conducted all ceremonial duties in Arlington Cemetery, the Pentagon, and the White House. One bright, sunny afternoon, I commanded a joint service cordon on the driveway of the South Lawn of The White House which welcomed two new ambassadors to The White House to receive their credentials from the President.
Name: Jose Miguel Rosario
Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Morgan Stanley
Branch: US Navy Aviation
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E5
Service Dates: 1987 – 1998
Work you did: Systems Engineer on the FA/18 aircrafts
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Deployed with the 105 Air Wing / VFA-131 active duty and VFA-203 reserves Squadrons. Served on several tours including the Mediterranean ocean. Received 2 Navy Achievement medals for high performance and systems knowledge.
Name: Herschel Ryan
Title/Company: First Vice President – Investments / Wells Fargo Advisors
Branch: US Army
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: 2nd Lt – Captain
Service Dates: 1965-1968