MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- As Chief Warrant Officer Larry R. Earl Jr. stood at the position of attention at Miller's Landing aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C., one could not help but notice the gleam in his eye as his father, Earl Sr., walked up the aisle.
His father, a retired Marine chief warrant officer 4, stepped forward to retire his son March 27, after watching him follow in his own footsteps for nearly 21 years.
As Earl Jr. stood waiting, a feeling of déjà vu set over him as he recollected a time years ago when his father enlisted him into the Marine Corps. He remembered all the times his father helped guide and mentor him into the Marine he is today.
"I owe where I am today to my father," said Earl Jr. "He has been there for a lot of my accomplishments and I am just glad to have followed in his footsteps."
Earl Sr. watched his son depart for recruit training; watched him grow after earning the Eagle, Globe and Anchor; watched him develop as a Marine and as a leader, and promoted him after he joined the chief warrant officer ranks.
"Because my dad enlisted me and brought me in to the Marine Corps, he was my first choice to (act as my retiring officer)," said Earl Jr., the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing's fuel officer. "When I talked to him on the phone, we both paused and kind of had that silent agreement where he said 'yes.'"
As a father pinned a final award, a Meritorious Service Medal, to his son's chest, a shared look of pride and accomplishment said more than words. Shortly after, Earl Sr. handed his son his retirement certificate, ending a career but continuing a legacy of family service.
"I don't know how else to describe being at my son's retirement ceremony," said Earl Sr. "It's been a real hoot. When my son asked me if I would retire him, I was able to go full circle, since I was the one who enlisted him."
Earl Sr. described the journey with his "best friend," watching him grow up and leading him in the right direction toward the man he is today.
"I'm happy to put the uniform back on and very proud to be able to retire my own son … and outrank him," he joked.