Sailing True North: Ten Admirals and the Voyage of Character

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Admiral James Stavridis (Ret.) was the 16th Supreme Allied Commander at NATO and is an Operating Executive at The Carlyle Group. His is the author of several books, including Sea Power: The History and Geopolitics of the World’s Oceans.

I think of being at sea on Memorial Day in the North Atlantic in 1994, headed to an anchorage off the beaches of Normandy to commemorate the 50th anniversary of D-Day. I was a young Navy Commander newly installed as captain in destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52). The average age of my crew was around 20, like the young men who in 1944 stormed the beaches of France half a century earlier, where too many would make the ultimate sacrifice — from Utah Beach to the Pont Du Hoc to Omaha Beach. After the commemoration we were headed to the Balkans and then to the troubled waters of the Arabian Gulf.

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