In honor of Veterans Day and National Veterans and Military Families Month, we present the latest installment of our 10th annual Advisors Who Serve(d) series.
So what is Advisors Who Serve(d)? Well, it’s just what it says: Financial advisors who have served or are serving in the military. This year’s compilation of advisors’ stories, told in their own words, debuted over Memorial Day weekend and continued on Fourth of July weekend.
This group of 16 stories and photos is arranged in alphabetical order so you can keep track of advisors as you scroll through. Maybe you’ll even recognize a few faces along the way.
Name: Jim Breen
Title/company: Private wealth FA, managing director, Wells Fargo Advisors
Branch: U.S. Army
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Cadet, captain
Service dates: 1982-1993
Work you did: Airborne, Ranger, infantry officer, platoon leader in Fairbanks, Alaska; after injuring my shoulder, I was transferred to the Finance Corps and was a detachment commander.
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Operation Brim Frost, a two-week joint Arctic exercise with the Canadian military. Temperatures reached 88 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Sadly, seven Canadian airmen were killed in a plane crash during the exercise, and two others died later of their injuries.
Name: Jeff Farrar
Title/company: Financial planner, founder and partner, Procyon Partners
Branch: U.S. Coast Guard
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Cadet at Coast Guard Academy, commander
Service dates: 1985-2009 — nine years active, 11 years reserve
Work you did: I proudly served for 20 years as a commissioned officer in the Coast Guard — first on active duty for about nine years and the remainder in the Coast Guard Reserve. While on active duty, I served on a cutter operating out of Florida and the Caribbean on law enforcement patrols. Next, I was privileged to serve as commanding officer of two coastal patrol boats out of California: the Point Evans and Point Hobart.
After graduate school, I ran the finances, purchasing and accounting for the Coast Guard’s 11th District: Arizona, California and Nevada (the patrol boat was way more fun). My time in the service laid the groundwork for leadership, integrity and hard work that would serve me well in my second career in personal finance.
Brief story that stands out from your service time: While captain of an 82-foot coastal patrol boat based in Los Angeles, we intercepted a 300-foot freighter about 100 miles off the California coast that was attempting to smuggle Chinese immigrants into the U.S. in horrid conditions. We worked with the U.S. Embassy to get permission from China to board the vessel, the Mexican government to have a landing spot for the migrants, and the U.S. Navy to help refuel our ship as we followed the smugglers across the Pacific as they made a run for it.
Name: John Gray
Title/company: Chief financial officer, Beacon Pointe Advisors
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Private, corporal
Service dates: 1989-1993
Work you did: Military police officer
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I participated in Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Our MP unit provided security for a strategic base approximately 50 miles from Kuwait. The base provided water and fuel to all Marine ground units and aircraft positioned along the front lines. After the start of the air campaign, the Iraqi military began to launch Scud missiles at our base over the course of three nights.
On the third night, our military identified where the missiles were being launched from and destroyed the launch sites. Two missiles hit our base; fortunately, there were no casualties. We felt like sitting ducks, but we knew it was only a matter of time before we would locate and take out the enemy.
Name: Alex Holguin
Title/company: Wealth management service associate, Frye Financial Center
Branch: U.S. Navy
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Petty officer
Service dates: 1996-2000
Brief story that stands out from your service time: Served on board an aircraft carrier stationed in Japan. While out in the Pacific and Indian oceans as a member of the ship’s navigation team, I’d watch the sun rise and set every day, making sure the ship was on track to reach its destination using navigational maps and instruments. Once we reached our destination, I would take the helm and steer the ship into port. Makes parallel parking a breeze!
Name: Tyler Johnson
Title/company: Associate financial advisor, Majestic Oak Advisory Group/Ameriprise Financial
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Private, sergeant
Service dates: 2008-2015
Work you did: Support Equipment Asset Manager for numerous Aircraft Type-Model-Series (different types of aircraft); Suicide Awareness Program Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC); Metrology and Calibrations NCOIC, Tool Control Program NCOIC
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I will never forget the look on the children’s faces when I was at the Bazaar in Kandahar, Afghanistan as they swarmed us in attempt to sell little bracelets. They were truly determined and resilient in their efforts to earn money. Likely, to take back to support their families.
I have always appreciated the way so many different people, different races, sexes, religions, cultures, and belief systems can come together behind one uniform. Having immense love for your brothers and sisters no matter the obstacles or challenges. At the end of the day, we learned that no matter what, we all wear green and bleed red.
Name: Andy Leung
Title/company: Private Wealth Advisor/Vice President/Procyon Partners
Branch: U.S. Marine Corps
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Captain
Service dates: 1990-1997
Work you did: Combat engineer and Marine Corps Security Force
Brief story that stands out from your service time: I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. I then entered the Marine Corps, and the majority of my service was spent overseas. My first assignment was with the 3rd Combat Engineer Battalion on Okinawa, Japan. I was then assigned as the executive officer of Marine Corps Security Force, Naples, Italy, with detachments in Sicily, Greece and Bahrain. During that time, I served in Sarajevo with NATO after the signing of the Dayton Peace Accords.
Name: Courtney N. McElvain
Title/company: Financial advisor and vice president/investments, Stifel, Nicolaus & Co. Inc.
Branch: U.S. Army
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Specialist 4, specialist 5
Service dates: 2002–2004
Work you did: Korean linguist
Brief story that stands out from your service time: The camaraderie developed by serving in the armed forces is unmatched. There is a moment when we all looked into the eyes of one another in our company and realized that this is all for the bigger picture. It’s an awareness of feeling tied to everyone throughout history who has ever served before you.
Name: Scott Plamondon
Title/company: Vice president, Beacon Pointe Insurance Services
Branch: U.S. Air Force
Rank held at beginning of service and at end: Airman, senior airman
Service dates: 1984-1987