Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn retired Aug. 7 as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and from a 33-year Army career. In a ceremony held at DIA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., nearly 500 distinguished visitors, representing more than 80 countries, joined life-long friends and family to celebrate Flynn’s career.
Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of U.S. Cyber Command and Director of the National Security Agency, presided over the ceremony, which included presentations of a number of prestigious medals and certificates.
“He’s about leading from the front. He’s about taking the hard jobs. He’s about driving change. … He’s always about the men and women around him,” Rogers said of Flynn and his career.
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper presented Flynn with both the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal and the Intelligence Community Seal Medallion, recognizing three decades of contributions within the intelligence community, including changes to create the force needed to confront the next generation’s challenges.
“Thank you, Mike, for all you've done for our intelligence community ... and for the tremendous legacy you're leaving in DIA's workforce,” Clapper said.
Flynn became a member of the intelligence community in 1981 when he was commissioned a second lieutenant in military intelligence upon graduation from the University of Rhode Island. Since that time, he held assignments supporting the Cold War; operations Urgent Fury, Uphold Democracy, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Desert Thunder II, Desert Fox, Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom; and numerous other classified military operations and contingencies.
Rogers presented Flynn with the Defense Distinguished Service Medal for his exceptional job at the helm of DIA during a time of skyrocketing requirements, a shifting security landscape and reduced resources.
In his own remarks, Flynn reflected on his career and the many personal and professional relationships formed throughout the years, as well as the importance of his family and the values and commitment to service instilled in him by his parents.
“My father taught me that the name soldier is the proudest name anyone can bear,” Flynn said of his late father Charles Flynn, a veteran of World War II and Korea and a retired Army sergeant first class.
Additionally, Flynn discussed service to the nation, and thanked the more than 16,500 men and women of DIA around the world.
Flynn also received from Rogers the NSA Director’s Distinguished Service Medal for the close partnership during his tenure between DIA and NSA. Other recognitions presented to Flynn during the ceremony included a certificate of appreciation from President Barack Obama; a tribute written into the Congressional Record July 23, 2014, by fellow Rhode Island native Sen. Jack Reed; and letters of appreciation from the secretary of defense, the chief of staff of the Army and the vice chief of staff of the Army.
Concluding his remarks, Rogers said to Flynn, “On behalf of the men and women of DIA, of the IC and of the U.S. government, I just want to say thanks, fair winds and following seas.”
In a nod to his love of surfing and this chapter in his life, Flynn said, “Life is like surfing a wave. You can’t change the way a wave breaks, but you can certainly change the way you ride it.”