An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

News Stories
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic

Sons Carry the Legacy of their Father, Retired Rear Adm. John F. Meier

by Lt. j. g. Jacqueline R. Ramos and Chief Mass Communication Specialist Brian M. Brooks, Naval Air Force Atlantic Public Affairs
25 September 2023 Retiring from naval service is a time-honored tradition and is especially significant if family members play a part in the ceremony. This was the case when now retired, Rear Adm. John Meier, conducted his retirement ceremony in conjunction with the Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT) change of command ceremony, Aug. 17.
Meier family conduct final salute
SLIDESHOW | 2 images | Meier Family Legacy 230817-N-OB471-1093 NORFOLK, Va. (Aug. 17, 2023) Marine Corps 1st Lt. Michael Meier, left, and Information Systems Technician (Submarines) Matthew Meier, give their father, Rear Adm. John Meier, center, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic (AIRLANT), the final salute of his naval career during a change of command ceremony aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). Meier was relieved of command by Rear Adm. Douglas Verissimo making him the 35th commander. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob Hilgendorf/Released)

Naval officers, enlisted Sailors of all ranks, and family members, who traveled from near and far, attended the ceremony to see John Meier conclude his 37 years of dedicated naval service. Most notably in attendance was John Meier’s wife Rachel Meier and their two sons, Marine Corps 1stLt. Michael Meier and Information Systems Technician (Submarines) 2nd Class Matthew Meier. John Meier, at the beginning of the event, had no idea what significance his sons would play later on in the ceremony.

“I believe the plan was actually my mother’s idea,” Michael Meier explained. “She gave my brother and me a warning months ahead of time that we would be taking part in the ceremony. Credit for any tact and composure my brother or I had during the ceremony goes to her. That coupled with 20 minutes of my brother and I arguing about how to march straight is about all ‘the plan’ we had.”

The poem “The Watch” was read by retired Fleet Command Master Chief Huben Phillips right before John Meier and his wife Rachel Meier were given proper Navy honors to walk through the ceremonial sideboys for the last time as an active-duty officer family.

“The Watch” is a poem about how throughout the career of a Sailor they “stand the watch” in spite of missing some monumental events in their own family’s lives and emphasizes what that sacrifice means. When a service member is retiring, the poem spotlights that the next generation now has the watch and the retiring member can stand relieved from duties.

The symbol of this passing of the torch is a traditional salute through the words, “I now have the watch,” from the active-duty service member and a reply of, “I stand relieved of the watch,” from the retiree.

This was the surprise role Michael Meier and Matthew Meier played in their father’s retirement, both giving John Meier his last salute.

“Master Chief Huben Phillips pulled my brother and me aside before the event started and walked us through what we were supposed to do and helped us to coordinate our part,” added Matthew Meier.

Michael Meier expressed how significant and sentimental this moment was for him.

“My dad was also my first official salute after I commissioned, so to close the loop on something like that is really a surreal experience I can’t put into words,” Michael Meier said. “It felt more akin to a handshake or a hug; with the undertones of superior and subordinate rank, but also that of a shared family profession and pride in each other.”

Michael Meier, 27, is currently stationed at the Tactics, Training and Exercise Control Group in 29 Palms, California. He commissioned into the Marine Corps after going to college at The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) in Lexington, Virginia. His family’s military background was what inspired him to serve.

“Growing up in a Navy family certainly lead to me joining the military,” Michael Meier said. “Coupled with a long family history of military service, and first hand experiences growing up within a Navy household, the idea of not joining the military in some capacity seemed foreign. Additionally, the caliber of people I was exposed to at a young age made the military seem incredibly inviting.”

Matthew Meier, 23, is currently stationed in Newport News, Virginia on the Los Angeles class-submarine USS Boise (SSN 764). Unlike his older brother, his family’s military background did not play a major role for his decision to serve, but rather his own plans for a career. He was previously attending college before he decided to enlist into the Navy.

“College wasn’t the right fit [or] place for me,” Matthew Meier explained. “My parents have always been supportive in everything that I’ve done and were definitely surprised when I told them I was leaving college to join the Navy.”

What both brothers have in common is their respect for their father and his extensive military career. They shared similar thoughts on his well-earned retirement.

“I’m really happy for him and am very excited to see what’s next in life for both my mom and dad,” Matthew Meier said.

“No one else deserves it more,” Michael Meier added. “While I am selfishly sad to see his active-duty time come to an end, I’m happy for all the experiences it has brought our family. Though, I’m even happier that my dad gets to sleep in past 8 a.m. now.”

The final salute that the sons gave to their father was not just a sign of respect as military service members, but also a sign that they will carry on his honorable legacy in the U.S. armed forces.

“I would say I have big shoes to fill, but we wear the same size boot so not sure that fits,” Michael Meier remarked. “I know the expectation is usually to ‘try and be as good as him one day,’ however I know my dad doesn’t want me or Matthew to be as successful as him; he wants us to be more so. But regardless if I stay in four more years or 40, the expectation is to continue to build on the Meier name and to better those around me through hard work and good morals.”

Matthew Meier shared a similar sentiment.

“My father’s legacy isn’t about being in the Navy,” Matthew Meier said. “It’s about being a good person. Leading people if you are able and treating those around you respectfully. I was brought up to be a good man and give back, in my way, to others. That’s the legacy I will carry.”

These brothers know that they have the full support of their family to lean on and to help achieve their goals both while they currently serve their country and beyond.  |  |  Navy FOIA  |  DoD Accessibility/Section 508  |  No Fear Act  |  Open Government  |  Plain Writing Act  |  Veterans Crisis Line  |  VA Vet Center  |  FVAPDoD Safe Helpline  |  Navy SAPR  |  NCIS Tips  |  Site Map  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Webmaster | Information quality | Public Use notice | Useful Links
Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic  |  1562 Mitscher Ave., Suite 300  |   Norfolk, Virginia 23551-2427  |   Contact AIRLANT 
Official U.S. Navy Website