Photo by Jessica Keller
Robert Kettle, a Queen Anne resident and retired Navy intelligence officer, sits in his living room holding a paper poppy, a symbol for remembrance, in front of photos of his great-grandfather and grandfather, who served in the British military in the two world wars. Being a first-generation American and career military vet is a point of pride for Kettle.
Photo by Jessica Keller Robert Kettle, a Queen Anne resident and retired Navy intelligence officer, sits in his living room holding a paper poppy, a symbol for remembrance, in front of photos of his great-grandfather and grandfather, who served in the British military in the two world wars. Being a first-generation American and career military vet is a point of pride for Kettle.

After 22 years spent proudly serving his country as a U.S. naval intelligence officer, Queen Anne resident Robert Kettle is looking to how he can best serve his community outside the military.

Kettle said he is proud to have served his family’s adopted country as a first-generation U.S. veteran who comes from a long line of military veterans, including his paternal great-grandfather and grandfather, who served in the two world wars.

Kettle joined the Navy as an officer because he had graduated from Boston University with a degree in political science-international relations focus, and a career as a naval intelligence officer seemed to be a good way to continue his interest, he said.

He did tours in Europe, Asia and the Middle East and grew an even greater appreciation for all the work that goes into keeping the country and the world safe.

“Being an intelligence officer allowed me to have that varied career,” he said.

Since Kettle was in intelligence command, he said his experience was different from others, although he was in dangerous situation. In one of his deployments to Iraq, four people in his unit died, something that affects him to this day.

Kettle said this Friday, which is Veterans Day in America and Remembrance Day in the British commonwealth, he will think about those soldiers who died, while remembering and honoring the ones who served.

Remembering those who lived, especially those who were injured in war, is something Kettle feels strongly about on Veterans Day. While Memorial Day is for remembering the dead, Veterans Day is about honoring those who served.

“Nobody who goes into the military comes back the same way,” Kettle said.

Generation X veterans like himself share an unusual experience. They are the bridge between newer vets and the veterans of previous foreign wars, like Korea and Vietnam. And although Generation X veterans served in any number of wars and conflicts, unlike the veterans who came before, Kettle and others like him received a warm welcome home and respect from the public.

 

Continuation of service

Since retiring from the military in 2012, Kettle has dedicated himself to continuing his service, within his community, something he encourages veterans to do. He recently left the Queen Anne Community Council to free up his schedule but is active in the Ballard Eagleson VFW Post 3063.

While the post is active, Kettle said he would like more veterans to join, specifically later Generation X veterans and younger military members just getting out.

Kettle said becoming a member of the VFW or supporting local VFWs is a way to continue serving. His VFW frequently hosts events benefitting the community, such as blood drives and fundraisers. Joining the VFW is also good for veterans because they interact with people who share similar experiences, even if they don’t talk about it.

“It provides a space for people who have gone through the same things,” Kettle said. “It’s a great community asset.”

Kettle has also been active in lobbying the Seattle school district, city and Seattle Center to take better care of Memorial Stadium and the memorial wall, where the names of all the over 750 young men from Seattle who died in World War are listed. While the area surrounding the wall is much cleaner than it was, Kettle said he hopes plans to renovate the stadium through a successful school district levy passage and partnership with the city include a better design for the memorial wall, which now abuts a parking lot. He said he would like the area surrounding the wall to be more contemplative and solemn, a memorial that respectfully recognizes the young soldiers.

“It’s really important to treat that right,” Kettle said.