NEWPORT, R.I. –
Sibling bonds can create the strongest relationships. The threads their family ties are reinforced by a shared upbringing and years of youthful competitiveness. That shared strength can allow siblings to succeed together when following similar life paths. The Gagnier brothers recognize the rarity of their situation and have taken full advantage of their unique bond.
On February 4, 2023, Lt. Richard Gagnier was properly relieved as commanding officer of Naval Security Forces (NSF) Newport by someone very near and dear to his heart: his younger brother, Lt. j.g. Robert Gagnier.
“When I saw the results come out (assignment to NSF Newport) I immediately laughed to myself in my office,” said Robert. “This situation couldn’t be any more unique.”
The Gagnier brothers come from a direct lineage of naval service. Their father, Randy Gagnier, retired chief mess management specialist, served 22 years on active duty.
“My boys have given me the greatest source of pride,” said Randy Gagnier. “The Navy has been so huge for myself and our family, and watching them both join, make rank and become commanding officers of Reserve units -- and then get to relieve one another -- has been indescribable.”
Richard knew from a young age he was going to follow in his father’s footsteps. “It was something that I always wanted to emulate,” said Richard. “Following my father’s
footsteps into the Navy was about the only real direction I had in life.”
“Seeing our father come home every day in uniform from as early as we can recall and talking with him about his experiences massively influenced and certainly inspired our decision to join the Navy,” he said.
The Gagnier brothers’ Naval careers have been a horserace to say the least. Richard was the first of the two to attend boot camp in Great Lakes, Illinois, in the summer of
2006. Robert followed shortly behind Richard after receiving his high school diploma the next year. Both brothers attended master-at-arms class ‘A’ school in San Antonio, Texas following their bootcamp graduation.
Utilizing the National Call to Service Program, Robert served a period of two years on active duty followed by a transition to the Selected Reserve in March, 2008. Although he’d enlisted one year after Richard, Robert was promoted to MA1 in 2011, one year before his older brother.
Not to be outdone, Richard transitioned to the Navy Reserve and became the first of the brothers to earn a commission via the Limited Duty Officer (LDO) program as a Security Officer in 2016. In 2019, once again motivated by his older brother’s accomplishments, Robert joined Richard in the Wardroom after utilizing the LDO program as well.
Not only did Richard and Robert serve together for a long stretch of years as Reserve Sailors, but the duo also mirrored each other in their civilian careers as well, tapping into their naval service law enforcement experience.
Following his separation from active duty service, Robert served as a Department of Defense police officer in his civilian career and currently serves as the Alternate Fuels Security Officer at Naval Shipyard Portsmouth. Richard served as a police officer in the state of New Hampshire and is currently a Federal Agent for the Department of Homeland Security.
Richard assumed command of Naval Reserve NSF Newport in 2021 and looks forward to his next assignment as commanding officer of NSF New London in Groton, Connecticut.
Robert anticipated the turnover with Richard and even feels as though he has a built-in advantage in assuming command, due to his close relationship with his brother.
“My brother and I are number one on each other’s speed dial whether one of us finds success in something or has an obstacle or challenge,” said Robert. “I’ve had the privilege of being in the wings during his entire tour in Newport. Luckily, that has given me a much better understanding of what I am taking command of and responsibility for.”
Richard believes his brother’s intelligence, judgement and empathy will make Robert an exceptional commanding officer at NSF Newport in his succession.
Following humbly in his brother’s footsteps, Robert is eager to do everything he can to continue moving NSF Newport in a positive direction.
“It feels good to come into a team that is already finding success in doing things well and being effective already,” said Robert. “They’ve found a working formula and I am excited to continue to move that forward and continue to evolve.”
Although Richard is headed to Connecticut to execute his following set of orders, Robert has no concern that the distance between them will create divide in their tight-knit bond.
“The two of us are so close,” said Robert of his brother. “He’s my built-in best friend.”