Adm. Cecil D. Haney, commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, awards Fleet Master Chief (SW/AW) John Minyard the Legion of Merit during his retirement ceremony aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Amanda Dunford/Released)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – Shipmates, family and friends gathered to honor and bid aloha to Fleet Master Chief John Minyard, who retired May 10 following 29 years of service.

The former and most recent U.S. Pacific Fleet master chief, Minyard took over as the senior enlisted advisor to then-Fleet Commander Adm. Robert F. Willard in June 2009. He subsequently served with and advised Adm. Patrick M. Walsh and current commander Adm. Cecil D. Haney on enlisted issues that affected the world's largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles.

Minyard takes a lot of pride when asked about his time as fleet master chief and service on the U.S. Pacific Fleet staff. He traveled throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region talking with senior and junior enlisted personnel about issues that affect their daily lives and the readiness of the fleet.

“It was such a great honor to serve the 140,000 men and women in the Pacific Fleet,” Minyard said. “Just having the privilege to be their senior enlisted leader and their voice to Navy leadership is an honor few people get in their career.”

During a ceremony aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial, Haney spoke of Minyard’s accomplishments during his naval career.

“He reinvigorated chief petty officer deckplate fundamentals, ethics and esprit de corps,” Haney said. “Fleet [Minyard] is compassionate and caring as a leader, and his legacy will live on with all of us he has engaged. I consider myself one of those fortunate Sailors having benefited from serving alongside this incredible Sailor.”

Following his remarks, Haney presented Minyard the Legion of Merit for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding service as fleet master chief.

Minyard was a driving force in implementing and improving many programs throughout the fleet such as the Chief Petty Officer Legacy Academies to benefit future chiefs. However, he said his proudest moment was hosting the Navy Wounded Warrior Pacific Trials in Pearl Harbor in November 2012.

“It was such a humbling experience to watch these phenomenal warriors compete for a spot on the Navy-Coast Guard team for the Wounded Warrior Games,” Minyard said as he reflected on his tour. “It was such an honor to get to speak with each athlete and understand how they overcame obstacles in their life.”

Minyard graduated from Operations Specialist “A” school in Dam Neck, Va., before being assigned to USS Gridley (CG 21), USS California (CGN 36), USS Howard (DDG 83), and Fighter Squadron 22 “Fighting Redcocks” (VFA 22). His shore duty assignments include Pacific Missile Test Center, Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) and as command master chief to Commander, 3rd Fleet.

“There were so many proud moments in my career that I can’t just name one. However, becoming a part of the Chiefs’ Mess is one of them,” Minyard said. “It was also a special and memorable occasion when I was able to have my brother (retired Cmdr. Scott Minyard) reenlist me on two separate occasions.”

When reflecting on his career, he said it was not what he anticipated when he enlisted from Corsicana, Texas, in 1984. Upon graduating from Berkner High School in 1982, and unsure of his future, he decided to serve a tour in the U.S. Navy. He said he has shown that a young man from a small town in Texas can achieve his dreams.

Minyard said his family has supported him throughout his career, and they motivated him to achieve so much success.

“My family has been the glue that has kept it all together,” he said. “My wife Mechele has been the rock of our family for the last 28 years. I also have two wonderful children that have kept me grounded and have been a blessing to me each and every day.”

Mechele Minyard has also supported Navy families through her work at the Fleet and Family Services Center. She also serves on the board of advisors for the Naval Services FamilyLine as the command master chief (CMC) advisory board chairwoman.

“I love working with children and command ombudsman,” Mechele Minyard said. “I truly believe that if the active duty members are comfortable and feel that their families are taken care of, then they [the active duty member] will be able to do their job better.”

“The Mess has a long history of being the foundation of the Navy and this should never be taken lightly,” Minyard said in his parting message to the Chiefs’ Mess. “Continue to have the courage to lead and make those tough decisions. Your words and actions define the Chiefs’ Mess and make a difference in our Navy.”