By Sean Bowes

Some Americans take patriotism personally, and U.S. Navy Senior Chief Petty Officer, and Wesley Chapel resident Robert J. Gorham is no exception.

On this recent Independence Day, Robert decided to do something a bit different than the usual fireworks and BBQ at his home in Lexington Oaks. Instead, Gorham celebrated the 4th of July in his own way, by making an additional six-year commitment to the Navy.

Robert, who already had served 20 years in the Navy, decided that he wanted to make this Independence Day special, and he also wanted to make sure his father, Alden B. Gorham Jr., a retired Navy Captain, would be there to enjoy it.

“I come from a Navy family,” said Robert, “My father served for 24 years, my brother is a retired Navy commander, and I have an uncle who was a submarine commander. We all like being out on the water.”

Robert decided to commit to the six-year enlistment, rather than the four-year, or even the minimum of a two-year enlistment, because he hopes that within six years, he could accomplish a personal goal of becoming a Master Chief, a title which is awarded to the most senior enlisted member of the U.S. Navy. Master Chief is the equivalent of Sergeant Major in the Army. Mostly though, Robert did it as a service to the nation he loves.

“I am always at service for my country,” said Robert, “I do it to ensure our freedom; it is the patriotic thing to do.”

The ceremony took place in the afternoon at Patriot Park in South Tampa, and to make it even sweeter, the service was conducted by Gorham’s father, and in attendance were Robert’s wife, Yvonne, his mother, Sally, as well as his mother- and father-in-law from Clearwater, Monique and Mike Kans.

Currently, Robert serves in the Navy Intelligence Reserve for the Southeast region in Jacksonville, where he is in charge of all Licensed Petty Officers (LPOs) for the entire southeastern region, which includes naval bases in Alabama and Georgia, as well as bases overseas in the United Kingdom. Previously, Gorham has been stationed in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Souda Bay, Crete, Greece; and at Macdill Air Force Base in South Tampa. In addition to his military career, Robert spends his time as the civilian project manager for the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), a non-profit organization and division of the Veterans Administration (VA) which helps supply management services and works to get health care organizations to collaborate with each other.

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