Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville vibe eased on into the U.S. Naval Academy’s Alumni Hall this week, a sign, perhaps, that it’s always 1700 somewhere.
The musician — known for Gulf Coast casual songs of beachside utopia with hits like “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and “Changes Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes” — was presented with the Superior Public Service Award by Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer for supporting the Navy and Marine Corps before Wednesday’s annual Naval Academy Spring Concert.
“So, you know, we do a lot of work in the Navy, but tonight it’s not about work,” Spencer told the Brigade of Midshipmen when introducing Buffett.
Video of the show posted to Buffett’s Facebook page, and photos on the U.S. Naval Academy Facebook page, show Spencer on stage, slipping out of his suit jacket, loosening his tie, and stripping off his button-up shirt to reveal a blue Hawaiian shirt underneath, with darker blue block lettering on the back spelling “NAVY”.
Then, donning red parrot-head headgear, Spencer presented Buffett with the award — the highest that can be given to civilian not employed by the Navy.
“He has been a member of the Navy family going back to 1980 when he played here at the Academy when your superintendent was dating his wife,” Spencer said, referring to Vice Adm. Ted Carter, the superintendent of the Naval Academy.
The citation recognizes Buffett as an “Unwavering supporter of the men, women, and families of the Navy and Marine Corps. His dedicated service to our sailors, Marines, wounded warriors, and civilians ensured that they were provided highly visible support and gratitude that greatly enhanced morale and welfare across the Department.”
On a personal note, Spencer told the brigade how much Buffett’s music has meant to him through the years.
“I saw Jimmy Buffett in 1972 when he opened for a fellow by the name Ronald Clyde Crosby also known as Jerry Jeff Walker,” Spencer said. “His songs and albums carried me through my time in college and the Marine Corps.”
The performance did run into some technical difficulties. During a rendition of the 1983 Buffett tune, “We are the People Our Parents Warned Us About,” the stage lost power. Undeterred, as seen in a YouTube video of the performance, Buffett picked up an acoustic guitar and led the audience in a sing-a-long until power was restored.
The following is the full text of the Superior Public Service Award citation:
For Superior Public Service in recognition of the exceptional and wide-ranging contributions made to the Department of the Navy from 2015 to 2018. Mr. Buffett is an unwavering supporter of the men, women, and families of the Navy and Marine Corps. His dedicated service to our Sailors, Marines, wounded warriors, and civilians ensured that they were provided highly visible support and gratitude that greatly enhanced morale and welfare across the Department. His efforts directly contributed to the personal resiliency and enthusiasm of our forces serving around the globe. Through his tireless efforts and contributions of time, energy, and dedication in providing concerts, personal appearances, and unequivocal support and personal thanks, Mr. Buffett increased awareness and public support for our Naval forces and directly impacted the quality of life for the men, women, and families of the Department of the Navy. With grateful appreciation for his untiring dedication, exceptional support, and public service, Mr. Buffett is awarded the Department of the Navy Superior Public Service Award.