Chief Brandon Saiz escorts his wife, Mary, and daughter Audrey from the stage during his retirement ceremony Wednesday. Mary, Audrey, and Saiz’s two other children, Anna and Abby, were recognized by the Coast Guard for their support during Saiz’s long deployments. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey).

Culinary Chief Brandon Saiz was formally retired from the US Coast Guard in a ceremony at Air Station Sitka today (Wednesday, May 31, 2017). Saiz served two decades in the Coast Guard, aboard several ships, and in deployments across Alaska. But he’s been ‘homeported’ in Sitka for the last 14 years, most recently overseeing the Air Station’s pub, The Eagle’s Nest. Saiz began his career as a Seaman Recruit aboard the Cutter Mackinaw in 1997, and it wasn’t long before he submitted his request to go to Food Service Specialist School. “You know they all hate their jobs,” Saiz remembers his chief saying, as he tested Saiz to see if he was looking for a shortcut off the ship. “And I don’t condone lying, but I totally lied to my chief that day — I was looking to get a head start on life.” Once he moved to the mess, Saiz realized he had found his calling. “I love serving people,” he said.

Air Station Cmdr. Chip Lewin (l.) congratulates Saiz on his career. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)

Wednesday’s ceremony included a formal reading of Saiz’s service record, and remarks by Air Station Cmdr. Chip Lewin who thanked Saiz’s wife and three daughters for supporting their dad throughout his career. “Twenty years is a long time,” Lewin said. “It’s half of your life that you’ve dedicated to the country and others. And it’s now time to reap the rewards of it, move on to the next phase, learn a little bit about yourself: What your face looks like with a beard or an earring, or a mullet!”

The Chiefs’ Mess serves as sideboys as Saiz (r.) is ceremonially piped “over the side,” a naval custom from the days of sailing vessels. (KCAW photo/Robert Woolsey)