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Honoring Advisors Who Serve(d): Memorial Day, 2021

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We’re pleased to present ThinkAdvisor’s 10th annual Advisors Who Serve(d) compilation, in which we highlight stories of veterans in the advisory world, told in their own words.

Advisors Who Serve(d) highlights financial advisors and other industry professionals who have served or are serving in the military. Each year’s initial compilation has debuted over Memorial Day weekend.

We recognize that Memorial Day is meant to honor those who have lost their lives while serving in the military, not for all who have served (who are honored on Veterans Day) or who are actively serving (recognized on Armed Forces Day).

May — which is Military Appreciation Month — and the time around Memorial Day were chosen for this coverage, however, since it is when many Americans focus on military service and thus should give extra attention to this important compilation of stories.

This group is arranged in alphabetical order and includes the first group of the roughly 30 submissions we received.

The remaining advisors will be featured around July 4 and Veterans Day, when ThinkAdvisor also recognizes financial advisors and professionals who have served in the military.

Wesley Adwell

Name: D. Wesley Adwell

Title/Company: Financial Advisor, West Coast Financial Group, Inc. / Lincoln Investment

Branch: US Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E1 – 1985 E5 Petty Officer 2nd Class

Service Dates: 1981 – 1985

Work you did: Fire Control Technician FTG2

Brief story that stands out from your service time: One memorable event was when Fleet Week was restarted and we visited San Francisco, Ca. in October 1984 with a huge battle group. The ships all got into formation prior to arrival (probably for a photo shoot) and there were ships and subs of all types in all directions to the horizons. 

An impressive show of force.  The city opened their arms to us and we had the best time that weekend.  Everyone was wearing their uniforms in town (which rarely happened) and that was an impressive sight to see.  The local citizens treated us great.  Very proud time to be in the military at that time.   

Frank Amsler

Name: Frank Amsler

Title/Company: Managing Director and Private Wealth Advisor / Rockefeller Capital Management

Branch: US Air Force

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Second Lieutenant / Captain

Service Dates: 1987 – 1992

Work you did: Pilot, 82nd FTW, Williams AFB; Aircraft Acquisitions, Wright-Patterson AFB

Brief story that stands out from your service time: When I was flying out of Williams AFB in Arizona, I went on an overnight cross-country trip. There was a problem with our fuel, and we got a late take-off on our final leg home. As we taxied in, there was a Chief Master Sargent waiting for us on the tarmac. Technically, as officers, we outranked him, but with his thirty years of service, it was like seeing your father waiting on the front porch.

We climbed out of the jet, and the Chief and I were talking. He said “I never go home until all of my chicks are in the nest. I have only had one crew not return, and after her, I have waited until everyone is home.”  I looked at him and said the name of the pilot that had not returned. He was so stunned that I knew her that he had to grab the wing of the jet to steady himself.

By coincidence, that pilot was my neighbor in Boston, and I had gone to her funeral my senior year in high school. She was actually one of the reasons I joined the Air Force. At that moment I felt a strange bond between myself and all who have served, all who were currently serving and all who would serve in the future. The Chief Master Sargent, the pilot that had died in a crash and I were all connected. I have never forgotten that feeling. 

Name: Janet Barr

Title/Company: Wealth Manager / Wealthcare Partners of Santa Barbara

Branch: US Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Sergeant

Service Dates: 1980 – 1984

Work you did: Logistics Analyst 

Brief story that stands out from your service time: I turned 18 and just graduated from high school in Souderton, PA. There was no diversity at all. I got to meet so many great people from across the country. It was a four-year tour, where I  learned about life, diversity and service to others. I would look at adversity as having a silver lining and I always took advantage of any opportunity. When asked if I wanted to compete, I said YES!

It was either working in the 120 degree heat or study in the air conditioned library. The military offered a great education savings plan so for every one dollar saved, the military would match it with $2. Talk about good financial planning.

My proudest achievement is being selected as the first female Sergeant to win post honors as the Non-Commissioned Officer of the Month in August 1983. There was a special luncheon to acknowledge this accomplishment. My mom and dad lived about 2 hours away, so they could attend the lunch. My father was an Army Pearl Harbor survivor and was able to be present. The  general took my dad for a special “behind the scenes“ tour where most civilians would not be allowed to go.

Name: Stephen B. Burton

Title/Company: Financial Advisor / Raymond James & Associates

Branch: US Marine Corps

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E-1 Private / E-5 Sergeant

Service Dates: 2008 – 2012

Work you did: Chemical, Biological, Radiological, and Nuclear Defense Specialist

Brief story that stands out from your service time: There are so many Marines I had the honor of serving with that have left a lasting impression on my life. Many of whom, are no longer with us, and I would like to take this opportunity to list their names. Lt. Col. Geoff Hollopeter, 1st. Lt. Matthew Davis, Staff Sgt. Leon H. Lucas Jr., Cpl. Paul W. Zanowick II, Lance Cpl. Jason D. Hill, Cpl. Mark R. Goyet, and Lance Cpl. Christopher Camero.  Semper Fidelis. 

Armond CroomName: Armond Croom

Title/Company: Founder / Croom Financial

Branch: US Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Lieutenant

Service Dates: 2000 – 2004

Work you did: I was a supply corp officer on the USS Nimitz. My main job was to handle the service side of a carrier and handled Procurement and accountability over all supplies.

Brief story that stands out from your service time: The story that stands out to me was relieving the USS Lincoln during Operation Iraqi Freedom.  The Lincoln had been out to see and away from their families for 8 months in the middle of the ocean.  When  a ship relieves another ship, you have to pull up beside that ship to perform an Unrep. 

Basically, they were transferring their supplies to us so that we could continue the mission.  The sailors to me looked tired.  I could tell they were ready to go home.  It was a sign to me what the next 8 months was going to be for me and my sailors.  Being on deployment can be a very grueling and lonely experience.  But you learn to somehow persevere. 

Dan GibsonName: Dan Gibson

Title/Company: First Vice President, Private Wealth Advisor / Rockefeller Capital Management

Branch: US Navy

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Ensign (O-1) – LCDR (O-4)

Service Dates: 2009 – 2015 Active, 2015- Present Reserve

Work you did: Navy SEAL

Brief story that stands out from your service time: After returning from the Middle East, I had the privilege of leading the US Navy Parachute Team (The Leap Frogs). Our purpose was to represent the SEAL Teams by traveling around the United States, parachuting into large events such as college football games, MLB, NFL, and community events.

During the course of our travels, I would meet tens of thousands of people all around the country. What stuck with me most was the appreciation Americans have for our Armed Forces and the gratitude they have for the sacrifices our service men and women make every day. I am so fortunate to live in and have served the greatest nation on earth. 

David GrayName: David J. Gray

Title/Company: VP, Financial Advisor / Merrill Lynch Wealth Management

Branch: US Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E1 / E4 Specialist

Service Dates: 2010 – 2016

Work you did: Forward Observer/Field Artillery/SST for Special Forces CJTF-HOA

Brief story that stands out from your service time: The VERY first time I linked up with my unit after basic training & AIT, the Brigade Commander gathered everyone and told us we were going to be deployed. I was as green as green could be and thought to myself, “Wow, that didn’t take very long.” 

I was part of a Site Security Team (SST) that went on missions with the PJ’s, Seals, Special Forces, Marines, etc. The good memorable moments I had were flying in the Air Force C-130’s, Army Black Hawks (UH-60), Osprey’s, Sea Stallions (CH-53 Marine Choppers) and fast roping out of the choppers. 

There is a scene in the movie Zero Dark Thirty where the commander asks if everyone has been in a helicopter crash and they all raise their hands. One day, we went on a flight with the Special Forces piloted by new Marines. When we got back on the chopper to head back to base, we took off and sand and dust came up. We couldn’t see anything.

The back propeller dug into the ground or hit a boulder and shot us into a trajectory that whiplashed everyone onboard and made the chopper do chaotic things. Fortunately, we were all strapped in. When I saw that scene in the movie, I couldn’t help but grin and raise my hand as well.

Carter HoneycuttName: Carter E. Honeycutt

Title/Company: Registered Investment Advisor / Highland Wealth Management

Branch: US Army

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: E1 Private / O5 Lieutenant Colonel

Service Dates: 1988 – 2020

Work you did: Armor, Infantry (Airborne, light and mechanized) Logistics

Brief story that stands out from your service time: As the company commander while in the field, my soldiers thought it would be comical to duct tape me in a port-o-potty during the summer heat.  I think I lost ten pounds during that 45-minute event.  Needless to say, they got a good laugh out of me while detained in a crapper.

Ed JeterName: Ed Jeter 

Title/Company: Private Wealth Advisor, Senior Vice President / Rockefeller Capital Management

Branch: US Marine Corps

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Commissioned as 2nd Lieutenant. Finished service as Captain

Service Dates: 1976 – 1982

Work you did: Aviation supply officer Marine Air Groups-15 and 30

Brief story that stands out from your service time: On deployment in Okinawa with a squadron of fighter aircraft, my job was to make sure that all of our fighters were able to fly all of their missions i.e., no aircraft would be grounded because of a broken/needed aircraft part.

Well on one mission we had one of our fighter aircraft break an in-flight refueling probe. I searched the inventory of every military base on the globe (by the way my search was done via 4×6″ microfiche film because this was before computers) and there were no refueling probes in stock. A few hours later one of our maintenance marines notified me that he had spotted an Air Force fighter aircraft of the same make and model as ours that was in a hanger a few hundred yards down the airstrip from ours.

The next morning our fighter aircraft that had been needing a refueling probe was in the air and completing its mission. While the Marines found a way to complete their mission, for some reason the Air Force soldiers had called the military police to investigate a missing part from one of their aircraft!

Kristina KeckName: Kristina P. Keck 

Title/Company: Vice President / Woodruff Sawyer

Branch: US Air Force /California Air National Guard

Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Airman Basic / Chief Master Sergeant

Service Dates: 1986 – 2015

Work you did: Command and Control, Command Chief Master Sergeant

Brief story that stands out from your service time: My first assignment was at Clark AB in the Philippines working in the 374th Wing Command Post. I was barely 18 years old and was of course wanting to be on top of everything I was supposed to do to help keep our airlift missions running on time.  My trainer at the time was a Master Sergeant Kabala.

During a Mid Shift when I was being evaluated he barked an order to me for a flight that was running in delay “We need a bucket of prop wash red balled to aircraft 08017!”. I immediately contacted the flight line and asked for a “bucket of prop wash” and at the other end of the line I heard a lot of laughter. My young self did not realize that “prop wash” was simply the air generated behind the propellers of a C-130. I had thought it was actually something you washed propellers with.

The next shift, I was asked urgently to contact maintenance control for “a 100 yards of flight line.” Again, having the great sense of urgency, pick up the hotline and asked the question. Now the maintenance guys had a good laugh. On a more romantic note, my husband of over 30 years was the news anchor on Clark AB when I was there. I saw him nightly on the news, had a huge crush, had a chance to meet and date — and we are still married today. What a great experience to have!


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