FORSYTH COUNTY — The first Forsyth County high school graduate to attend the U.S. Naval Academy recently retired after a military career that spanned more than three decades.
Capt. Mark Weber was the valedictorian of what was then Forsyth County High School’s class of 1979. He joined the Navy after graduation and two years later was appointed to the academy.
After graduating from the academy in 1985, Weber began his 30-year military career. He commanded several ships, including the USS McHenry, which played host to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
Weber also earned two master’s degrees and served as a program manager in policy, plans and requirements for the White House Military Office.
Weber received several honors throughout his career, including the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Honor awards, two Meritorious Service Medals, six Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals and two Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals.
In a phone interview last week, Weber said he found his career to be fulfilling. Cooperating with and mentoring other sailors was a highlight.
“To see the crew come together in difficult or challenging times, to overcome that … you see those people succeed, and I think that’s very rewarding,” he said.
Weber said the responsibilities he dealt with in the Navy taught him a valuable moral lesson.
“Always doing what’s right. It’s not always the easiest thing to do, but normally if you do what you feel is right, it’ll work out,” he said. “Trust in those feelings and act upon them.”
Weber traveled extensively throughout his career, living in several states and countries including California, Rhode Island, Virginia and Japan.
He said support from family, particularly wife Itura, also a Forsyth County native, helped him deal with the constant moves.
“You can’t do those types of things that I did without a strong support system from my wife,” he said. “She had to do it all on her own and raise two young kids, at the time.”
Weber’s retirement ceremony was held in Washington, D.C., at the U.S. Navy Memorial, which was built towards the beginning of his career.
“Three fourths of my company from the naval academy, my classmates from my company there, attended. That meant a lot to me,” Weber said. “It was great to reflect upon my career and share that with friends and family.”