SAN DIEGO - Former President William Jefferson Clinton, and Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton were guests at a retirement ceremony aboard USS Makin Island (LHD 8) April 1.
The ceremony marked the conclusion of a 22-year Navy career for Chief Culinary Specialist Oscar Flores, United States Navy Reserve, who had served as a culinary specialist at the White house.
Flores is currently employed as director of operations at the Clinton residence in Chappaqua, N.Y.
"Oscar without the Navy, is like me without a pants suit," said Hillary Clinton. "…We call him the 'Mayor of Chappaqua,' because a simple trip to the grocery store or to the post office turns into a three hour town hall meeting. Everybody wants to talk to Oscar."
Secretary Clinton also spoke of Flores' charismatic personality and his broad group of close friends and acquaintances.
President Clinton reiterated Flores' beloved status, lamenting that even the family dog likes Flores more. He said Flores had become a member of the family through his devotion and steadfast service. Decorating the Christmas tree, preserving family heirlooms during a flood, and taking care of the former president during his quadruple bypass surgery, all forged a solid bond between him and the Clintons.
"I was so proud of him," President Clinton said.
He said Americans should be proud and thankful for people like Flores who "keep our country's defense mechanism going."
"He raised his right hand and swore an oath, the same oath that thousands of Sailors take every year," said Capt. Jim Landers, USS Makin Island commanding officer. "It's an oath that carries the intensity and weight of our American ideals and an oath that encompasses the honor and valor of the American warrior."
Flores said when he was initially asked to go to Washington, D.C., he said he would "give it a try."
In sharp contrast to his initial assessment, Flores went on to assert that working at the White House is the "highlight of one's career as a [Culinary Specialist]," said Flores. "My years at the White House are years that I will truly treasure for the rest of my life."
The ceremony concluded in traditional fashion as Flores was piped ashore with his family by an honor boatswain's mate. A private family reception followed at a location outside Naval Base San Diego.