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October 24, 2014

Sylacauga native retires from 35-year Navy career

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Posted: Monday, July 21, 2014 10:00 pm

A Sylacauga native who served his country faithfully retired after a 35-year career in the U.S. Navy.

U.S. Navy Cmdr. Marquis Patton retired in June during a ceremony aboard the USS Yorktown in Mt. Pleasant, S.C.

“All I can say is, what a career,” said Cmdr. Charles Phillip, Naval Munitions Command Unit Charleston commander and guest speaker at the retirement ceremony. “I admire his dedication to our nation and the Navy, his leadership and ability to execute the mission.”

Patton is the son of Dorothy Patton and the late Willie Patton of Sylacauga. He graduated from Sylacauga High School in 1979. Patton and his best friend, Alvin Porter, enlisted in the Navy in April 1979 under the Buddy Program.

“I spent the next 13 years rising through the ranks,” Patton said. “In 1989, I obtained the rank of Torpedoman Mate Chief Petty Officer. My next goal was to become a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy. Through hard work, sacrifice and perseverance, I reached my goal in 1992."

Patton served on destroyer tenders, destroyers, frigates, and aircraft carriers. During his 35 years of service, he held a myriad of leadership positions including work center supervisor, leading petty officer, production chief, electronic readiness officer, training liaison officer, systems test officer, assistant operations officer, officer in charge, weapons officer/gun boss, executive officer, deputy commander and commanding officer.

He earned a bachelors of science degree in business management from California Coast University during off-duty hours. He is pursuing his masters degree in management and project management professional (PMP) certification.

Patton has 18 sea tours during his career. He deployed 11 times to the Western Pacific/Persian Gulf supporting Operation Earnest Will, Operation Praying Mantis, Operation Southern Watch, Maritime Intercept Operations/Visit Board Search Seizure Operations, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“If you want to be successful in life, you must have a plan,” he said. “You must be willing to put forth the effort and have the perseverance and an unshakable belief in yourself that you can achieve your goal.

“The 35 years I spent in the Navy were amazing. I have traveled around the world visiting six of the seven continents. I am proud of the sailors that I have helped develop, whether wide-eyed recruits or junior officers, especially those who made the Navy a career. However, what I am most proud of are the sailors that were cast aside as trouble makers or unfit for Naval service. Many of those sailors had given up on themselves and the Navy, but through mentoring, perseverance and some tough love, many of these young men and women went on to have successful careers. While others may have left the Navy family, the life lessons that were learned have helped all of us become better spouses, parents and productive citizens. The amazing thing about today's technology is, it has allowed me to stay connected with hundreds of sailors I have served with over my 35 years. These sailors are part of my extended family. I have been the best man at weddings, my wife and I have been afforded the opportunity to be surrogate parents, grandparents or godparents to their children. We have cheered them on through their many accomplishments; T-ball, flag ball, soccer, fast-pitch softball, cheerleading, gymnastics, followed by their prom and then high school graduation and even a few weddings.

“For any young person that may not have the means to attend college and does not know where he or she is headed, join the service of your choice. The military will help you find clarity, give you a purpose and pay 100 percent of your college tuition while on active duty. In addition, you get do some amazing things: I've climbed Mt. Fuji (Japan), snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, hiked the path of the Bataan Death March (Philippine Islands), I witnessed lions, zebras, elephants, and giraffes in their natural habitat on the plains of Amboseli National Park (Nairobi, Kenya), I've walked across London Bridge and watched the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, and I've watched New Year's Eve fireworks with the Sydney Opera House and Coat Hanger Bridge in the background. But there's nothing like Chinese New Year in Kowloon, Hong Kong. I've eaten food from various cultures -- some growing up in Sylacauga I wouldn't have imagined -- and along the way I have meet some interesting people from all walks of life and experienced life to the fullest.

“A mentor of mine told me early on in my career, to be a success in the Navy, you must set priorities and learn to compartmentalize the things in your life, especially when at sea. My priorities are the four Fs: faith, family, fitness and finance. By establishing priorities and holding steadfast to those beliefs, I have maintained a balance in my life that has proven to be a winning formula for my career and personal life.”

Patton is marred to the former Shilia Jorge of Brooklyn, N.Y. They have four grown sons, Marquis II, CJ, Stefano and Aamir. The Pattons plan to remain in Charleston, S.C., until Shilia Patton retires from the Berkeley County School District, where she is a teacher. Following her retirement, the couple plan to return to their Eastlake home in Southern California.

Contact Elsie Hodnett at ehodnett@dailyhome.com.

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