A life of service

Published 7:54 pm Monday, April 4, 2011

Suffolk native Capt. Manuel E. Falcon retired from the U.S. Navy on March 31 after 30 years of service.

Suffolk native retires after 30 years in U.S. Navy

NAPLES, Italy — “Have fun, have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at yourself.”

Those words are some of the lasting pieces of advice that Capt. Manuel E. Falcon, a Suffolk native, gave to co-workers, friends, and family as his retirement ceremony came to a close March 31.

As a light-hearted, family man with a reserved demeanor, these words seemed to epitomize a stellar career filled with genuine smiles and faithful service.

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Falcon, Deputy Commander Navy Region Europe, Africa Southwest Asia, retired after 30 years of devoted service to the Navy.

“I prepared 30 years for a retirement filled with great sea stories and lies about the greatness of my career as an officer,” a smiling Falcon joked as he spoke during the ceremony.

Throughout his career, Falcon has never shied away from what he says is the job of naval officers — to be at sea.

After graduating the Naval Academy in 1981, Falcon attended Surface Warfare Officer training in Coronado, Calif., and then reported to USS Belleau Wood as a division officer, serving as the damage control assistant.

Following that tour, Falcon served consecutive department head tours aboard USS Rentz and USS Cowpens.

In 1991, Falcon attended the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, where he earned a Master’s Degree in Military Arts and Science. He then served on staff of the U.S. Sixth Fleet, followed by orders as executive officer of USS Merrill, and later served at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.

Falcon then served as the commanding officer for Navy Recruiting District Miami, afterwards further making a name for himself as a member of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe and the Navy Region Singapore chief of staff. Upon completion of his tour in Singapore, Falcon traveled to Italy to his last command.

“Join the Navy and see the world,” said Rear Adm. Anthony Gaiani, Commander Navy Region EURAFSWA. “What an amazing career he [Falcon] has had both ashore and at sea. He is truly leaving our service a little better than he found it. I and so many others look on Ed’s retirement with a bit of sadness.”

Offering advice and wisdom learned during his 30-year career, Falcon said, “The day your sailors stop coming to you with their problems is the day you stop leading them.” A sailor, he added should “never look back unless you intend to go that way.”

In the end, Falcon had words of encouragement for his subordinates and his peers alike. “It’s the people I will remember,” he said. “It’s always been about the people.”