Panama City Beach -- We are used to hearing about Navy divers in this area, but today it was all about Army divers. Naval Support Activity in Panama City Beach hosted a special retirement ceremony for three of the Army’s top Master Divers.
The event was showcased before 1890s era divers; three veteran deep sea divers were brought aboard the YDT 17 ship to be honored for their years of service. The ceremony filled with patriotism and showmanship, was the final leg of a long journey for the retiring Master Divers.
“It’s saddening because it’s a good friend, it’s something I’m going to miss” said Michael Von Keyserling, Retired Master Sergeant.
Master Sergeant Michael Von Keyserling, First Sergeant, Luis Rivera and Master Sergeant Marlo Mendoza all received the Meritorious Service Medal for their dedication to their country.
“26 in a half years of service, it’s just a big load off I cannot describe” said Marlo Mendoza, Retired Master Sergeant.
Deep sea divers have been a part of the United State Army since the late 1800s. They perform various roles in military operations from recovery missions to underwater construction. The years of service have forged a deep bond among these band of brothers.
“I’m going to miss that camaraderie everyday, but I am looking forward to starting things new” said Von Keyserling.
As the retiring master divers prepare to leave deep sea diving to their younger counterparts, they prepare for another chapter in their lives and reflect on the legacies they leave behind.
“People have the tendency when they’re in the leadership position that they have to expect respect, but it’s not expect it, it’s earned” said Mendoza.
“Hopefully they picked up something that they carry forward, that will help them deal with military life better” said Luis Rivera, Retired First Sergeant.
The retiring divers say they plan to spend much of their retired lives with their families.