Kruse Family Promotion Speech

Below is my the speech I gave at the ceremony for my frocking to Captain:

I’d like to applaud the great reading done by my beautiful children (you can see their remarks below)–when I made Commander 7 years ago only my two oldest knew how to read and it’s so amazing to have all 5 of them up here now.

Finally, I’d like to thank God for blessing me with such an amazing, incredible and beautiful woman.  Emily, what a woman you are!  You are my rock, you inspire me, you encourage me, and I love you. And to our unborn son–I’m so glad you are here.


  • 14 years ago, during our weekly lunch meeting I was discussing decision-making with a mentor of mine named Terry and he took out a piece of paper and drew 4 circles around a small bulls-eye circle with a dot in the center.  

    • He said: I want you to start in that middle bulls-eye circle (that dot is you) and write in a word to represent the most important relationship or identity source to you, and then continue in each circle in order of importance.  

    • God, Emily, Family, Career, Navy (or from an identity perspective: Christian, Husband, Father, naval officer, Foreign Area Officer, etc.

    • He said to me: now Jack, there’s going to be some decisions you face that are easy to know the right answer.  For some decisions, it’ll be clear as day that it contradicts what the Bible lays out.  That’s your bulls-eye.  The bulls eye circles will keep you out of trouble (and jail): should I rob that bank, should I cheat on my taxes

    • For a heck of a lot of decisions though, it won’t be as clear what you should do. This is when those outer circles come into play. If you haven’t thought through your circles, you’ll have no consistency, no integrity with how you face and live your life and lead your family. 

    • Having Emily and my family in those next two circles is why I am standing here today–upon much reflection, it’s been the secret to my…failures.  


  • You see…what I’ve discovered is that a key to a life of joy is to fail.  Specifically, fail where it doesn’t matter as much.  Mind those inner circles and fail in those outer circles.  

  • Annnnd…you can ask most anybody, I’m pretty good at failing.  I gave a similar speech some 7 years ago when I made commander after failing to select the first time around.  And here I am again, having made Captain after failing to be selected for it the first time around.  

  • But what a beautiful failure not making Captain has been for me.  Back two summers ago in 2022, I was anxiously checking the website where they post the promotion results several times a day (or hour).  I thought there was a good chance I would make it and was excited to celebrate with Emily and the kids.  

  • Needless to say, I didn’t make it.  Even when you mind those inner circles, failure in those outer circle can still be a blow.  I was a little sad and shell shocked that weekend and headed into work Monday a little downtrodden.  

  • But what I saw when I came home from work that day meant more than any selection or promotion ever could have meant. It’s a little hard to see in the photo but they’d colored and written letters and taped them to the front window of our house that spelled out: C A P T A I N O F O U R H E A R T S (for the marines here that spells Captain of our hearts)

  • Mind. those. circles.

  • I walked into the house that day and into that  CIRCLE.  THE circle.  The circle of my wife’s embrace, the circle of the joyful squeals and tight hugs of my children (and brownies–those have a special place orbiting my inner circle).


  • So this is reason the programs on your seats say “Kruse family promotion ceremony”  and not my name.

  • While I may be the one who got promoted–this isn’t for me.  All of this means nothing without my circle.


  • My children recited the names of our family members who served to emphasize the circle of service to country for our family.  I wouldn’t be standing here today if were not for the near mythical esteem with which I held many of these family members growing up (LOOK AT BOARD):

    • My maternal Grandpa Lowell Stockdale– He was a legend as a student here–the first plebe to ever become the Heavyweight Brigade boxing champ and the only plebe in his class to get a varsity N-star.  When it came to the Navy’s rules, he minded his circles and married my grandma while he was still a midshipman here.  Thank God he did or I wouldn’t be standing here today. In the Navy, he was one of the original VF-21 Machbusters, performing some of the first jet-powered carrier landings in the F-9 Cougar back in the early 50’s. But he cut his career short for his family after his oldest son was born with Down Syndrome–he minded his circles.

    • My paternal grandmother was also a devildog, and then a peace corps volunteer and then a hundred other often titilliating lives after that minding her circle.  Her irreverent sense of humor, her love of writing and reading, her dedication to letter-writing–she shaped much of my youth.

    • My dad was also a devildog and I remember growing up thinking that it must be the coolest thing in the world to be a marine and to wear that uniform.  There are four things he did that shaped the man I am today–he loved my mom outwardly and unashamedly (minded his circle), he read a ton of books, he took the time to write me letters (minded that family circle), and he had a practiced disdain for “the rules” (the rules were not part of his circles)

  • All that to say–military service was definitely “in my blood”...

  • BUT

  • When I was sworn in almost 27 years ago outside this building in T-court, I was NOT thinking about actual service to country.  

    • As I raised my right hand out there and bid farewell to my parents, it was part of a rather emotionally removed calculus that I was here for a free education–five years of obligatory military service after graduation seemed a small price to pay.  

    • As the plebe summer hazing and heat intensified (“indoctrination”), I quickly realized I’d made a grave mistake and sorely mis-hedged my bets.

  • I actually tried to quit numerous times over Plebe summer–the Naval Academy (and I’d soon discover, the Navy) rewards those who play the game–who love the gung-ho Navy-ness of it all, those who follow the rules for the sake of tradition and because they are you know…rules, 

    • In short, the Navy rewards those who don’t mind getting…molded. 

    • So, a big thank you goes out to my parents in this regard–they urged me to stick it out…for one more week, and then for one more week…and here we are 27 years later.

    • I don’t think anyone who knew me then would have believed I’d be here having been promoted.  In fact, I recently found some old journal entries I wrote when I was mistakenly doing a Marine Corps training program the summer of my junior year–one entry included a quote from my friend Jamie Peace who is here today–our squad had all been discussing one of the final tests of the course–a grueling all night solo 6 hour long navigation course through the wilderness of Virginia–and Jamie gleefully shared: “When I’m lost tonight, at first I might worry, but then I will realize if I’m lost, then Kruse is four times as lost.”  Needless to say, a marine corps career was not in ANY of my circles.  


  • "In a world of Daddy Sharks, Be a Daddy Unicorn."

  • My daughter Betty wrote these words congratulating me on my selection for Captain--I love this sentiment  (I included on the front of your programs–some of Jackson’s artwork graces the back (he’ll be available afterwards for anyone wanting an autograph) because daddy sharks don’t have circles.  And if they do, they certainly don’t mind those circles.  

  • As a “daddy unicorn” minding my circles has meant that all of my career, TDY, conference attendance, should I stay late or not, how perfect should these talking points be,  life-work balance decisions are put through the bulls-eye circles.    

  • Making the best decisions for your wife, for your kids often means making allegedly bad decisions for your career, for the Navy.  It means “failing” from the Navy’s perspective.

  • I have a one-page philosophy that I give on the first day to the men and women that work for me–it’s entitled “You Will Be Forgotten.” It goes on to say

  • No matter how great the things you do are during your tour are——no matter what your fitrep/eval says—no matter the accolades, no matter how long of hours you work, no matter how many weekends you agree to work.. You WILL BE FORGOTTEN. 

  • Within 3 years (probably less) no one at the embassy or office  will remember you (they will have all left and been forgotten too). 

  • No one will remember you and the work you’ve done. 

  • NO ONE (unless you’re James Lawrence–the don’t give up the ship guy)

  • But you know who will remember?  

    • Your wife or husband or children will remember missed anniversaries, birthdays and special events.  They will remember where your priority was—what you invested in.  They will remember you showing up—they will remember you choosing them—they will remember your circles.

Mind your inner circles.  Fail in those outer ones when necessary because maybe sometimes it’s okay to give up some “ships” but never your family.

Thank you for coming–Beat Army!

Kruse Family Ceremony Script

Gladys Kruse: Welcome Ladies and Gentlemen!  Thank you for coming today to this celebration!

Isla Grace Kruse:  We are pleased that all of you could join us as we celebrate the promotion of my dad,  

Commander Jack Kruse to the rank of Captain. We are Macee and Betty and Jackson, and Isla Grace, and Gladys 

Kruse, his amazing children. Also, we’d like to thank the many special guests, friends, family, and co-workers for 

being here on this special day, especially our Mommy,  Auntie Lala, Gramma Dee, Grandfather, Noni and PopPop  

We are all very excited!

Macee Kruse :

We’d like to begin by reciting the names of our family members who served in the military to remembers the legacy 

of their service dating back to the Battle of Waterloo: 

  • Thomas Stockdale, of the seventy-ninth Scottish High-landers, who screaming “SCOTLAND FOREVER” vanquished Napoleon  at the Battle of Waterloo.  

  • William Stockdale, Iowa Regiment in the Civil War

  • Thomas Depper, Canadian Army World War One

  • Wilfred Depper, Canadian Army, World War One

  • Wilmont Vermillion, US Army, World War One

Betty Kruse:

  • Kenneth Emery, Royal Navy World Two

  • Charles Depper, Royal Canadian Air Force, World War Two

  • William Depper, U.S. Navy, World War Two

  • Clarence Buller, Canadian Army, World War Two

  • Harry Gallagher, U.S. Army, World War Two

  • Thomas Depper Junior, Canadian Army, Korean War

  • Jerome Stock, U.S. Army Korean War

  • Jack Kruse, Marine Corps, Vietnam and Korean War

  • Wendell Stockdale, U.S. Air Force, Class of 52

  • Great Granny Nanny Darling Nancy Kruse, Marine Corps

  • Great Grandpa Lowell Stockdale, US Navy, Class of 51

  • Great Grandpa Dick Parker, US Navy, World War Two, Korea, and Vietnam, Class of 40

Jackson Kruse: 

  • Great Grandpa First Class  James Menge, U.S. Navy, WW II

  • William Lucia, U.S. Navy, WWII

  • Grandfather John Kruse Junior,  Marine Corps, Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Class of 76

  • Grand Dude Lieutenant Commander David Elhoff, U. S.  Navy

  • Seaman Mike Stockdale, U. S.  Navy

  • Seaman Devin Kruse, U. S.  Coast Guard

  • Staff Sergeant Kevin Kruse, U. S. Marine Corps

  • Buncle Commander Ben Harms, U.S. Navy

  • Uncle Commander Brendan Kruse, U.S. Navy

  • Aunt Loo-ten-ant Jamie Kruse, U.S. Navy

  • Uncle Lieutenant Patrick Kruse, U.S. Navy, Class of 2006

  • Second cousin Airman Zach Kruse, U.S. Air Force

  • Second cousin PFC Kevin Kruse Jr., US Marine Corps

  • and finally, the best for last our Dad, ALMOST Captain  Jack Kruse, from the might class of 2001

And now for a few words from our dad’s dad Colonel Grandfather Gucca Kruse


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