This is the emotional moment a mom was relieved of her duties after 30 years in the U.S. Navy by her Navy-serving son, who she thought would not be able to make the ceremony.
Latonya Luter, Master Chief Petty Officer from Crestview, Florida, had initially planned for her retirement ceremony to be in Arlington, Virginia, on May 20.
But her son, James Q. Luter, 19, was still in training and would not have been able to attend.
The pair come from a Navy family, as Latonya’s uncle served during the Vietnam era, and she met her husband in 1993 when assigned to the USS George Washington.
Knowing how much it would mean for Latonya to have James present, her retirement ceremony was moved to September 1, after James had finished his first training phase and had approved leave.
The relieving of the watch is a formal process that happens 24/7, 365 days a year in the Navy.
There is always someone standing watch onboard ships, submarines, bases, and so on, and those serving do not leave their post until they are properly relieved.
The reading of The Watch is a Navy tradition at retirement ceremony and the retiree chooses who will read The Watch and who will serve as their relief, which led to Latonya choosing James.
Latonya’s friend captured her wholesome embrace with her son on video, and the moment soon received an outpouring of well wishes on social media.
After James had faced his mother and given her a final salute, the pair embraced, resulting in many happy tears.
Latonya, who served for 30 years and six days in eight commands, said of her pride: “Words continue to escape me – the video has been received with so much gratitude and love.
“Many of my family and friends say that I deserve to have this moment shared repeatedly.
“One dear friend said she’s so glad that the world can share in the blessing of my service to our country.
“It was a privilege for me to serve our country and I have no regrets; I would do it again because, at the end of the day, someone has to do it, someone has to commit to ensure that our citizens continue to enjoy freedom and not live in constant fear.
“My commitment to service allowed me to fulfill my purpose in life, and my ceremony provided much needed closure.”