"I brought my patriotism straight from my parents and my hometown of Danville," said Doug Tudor. "My father is my hero. I'm extremely close to my mother and father, and Danville is true Middle America. It's what patriotism is all about. I took my wife to Constitution Square, Perryville Battlefield, Pioneer Playhouse and places around town, and she loved it. Danville is what America is really about."
Doug Tudor chose the yeoman's path instead of his father's corpsman duties, and now serves as flagwriter, the Navy equivalent of a personal assistant, to Lt. Gen. John Abizaid, commander of the U.S. Central Command. Gen. Abizaid heads U.S. forces in the Middle East, including Iraq and Afghanistan. He succeeded Gen. Tommy Franks, for whom Tudor served as flagwriter as well.
"Gen. Abizaid is very much a soldier's soldier," said Tudor. "He believes what we're doing is vitally important, and he pours himself into the job."
"I do protocol, speech writing, personal correspondence, scheduling, travel arrangements, any number of duties," said Tudor. "It's exciting. Every day is different. You have to keep your eye on the ball. At 41, it definitely keeps me young."
He is in Iraq often
Tudor is stationed in Tampa, Fla., with a forward headquarters in Qatar. He visits Iraq quite often, and his brother, John, works there as a civilian contractor. That means his mother, Christine, often has two sons in a volatile part of the world.
"My mom's a true Navy wife," he said. "There's an old saying that being a Navy wife is the toughest job in the world, and it's true. Mom served with Dad for over 20 years, and now she has two sons who are sometimes in Baghdad at the same time."
"The prayer every night is 'God, please watch over my boys,' " Mrs. Tudor said. "I worry about them, just like I worried about my husband all those years. But they're doing what they love, and what they feel they need to do. I'm very proud of my boys, and I'm very proud of my husband," she said.
"Doug told his dad he was proud to be the second master chief in the family," she said. "He's been determined to follow in his father's footsteps."
Doug Tudor travels about 20 days a month, he said, and recently wed Air Force Tech. Sgt. Paula Tudor. They have two children, Hannah, 9, and Alec, 6.
"I try to get home (to Danville) at least twice a year, and I talk to my parents about once a week, depending on where I am."
During his sea duty, Tudor has made all or part of four Mediterranean Sea deployments, one North Atlantic Ocean deployment, and participated in various operations in the Caribbean and Red Seas. He has been awarded the Defense Meritorious Service Medal (with one oak leaf cluster), the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (with one gold star), the Joint Service Achievement Medal, and the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal (with two gold stars) along with various unit and campaign awards.
Simple advice to anyone considering the Navy
As a second-generation master chief, Tudor said his advice to anyone considering joining the Navy would be simple:
"Go for it. Join up. I've had such an interesting experience in the Navy, I wouldn't trade my career for any other. Sometimes it hits me that I'd have never dreamed that a kid from Danville could grow up to do and see some of the things I've done and seen. My first plane ride ever was to boot camp, and now I've crossed the Atlantic Ocean 50 times and been to 31 countries."
Tudor said the support from home has been crucial during Operation Enduring Freedom and its aftermath.
"During the conflict, we got so much support, so many letters and prayers from the people back home in Danville," he said. "They'll never know how much that meant to us, to all the soldiers. We can never thank them for the support."