Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made his final stop in San Diego Wednesday, and he spoke exclusively to 10News reporter Hannah Mullins about his time leading the Navy and Marine Corps.
Mabus met with local military leaders at the SDMAC breakfast, as well as civilian workers at NASSCO and service members at Camp Pendleton.
Mabus, who has been at the helm for almost eight years, told 10News, "It's been the greatest honor of my life to lead the Navy and Marine Corps."
He writes big checks with a $170 billion annual budget. He also maps out the big picture for nearly 900,000 people.
Mabus has hit controversy head-on and sparked a lot of criticism for sweeping changes, like allowing women in combat.
"The happy times are when you're with sailors and Marines when they are forward deployed, and you get to see just how good they are … just how hard the jobs we ask them to do, but how magnificent they are at doing them day in and day out," he said.
U.S. troops are on the brink of a bloody battle against ISIS, and Mabus added, "While they are only advising and assisting, it's a dangerous place."
It is his job to keep them safe and to keep the Navy and Marine Corps strong.
Mabus is adding 31 ships to San Diego, which means more jobs and more money. The Department of Defense is also buying more F-18 fighters.
Mullins said it is an aging aircraft and asked what is being done to make sure our troops flying them are safe.
"We're doing service life extension," he answered. "The one thing I want to stress is we don't put an aircraft up unless it is safe."
Mabus continues to making local bases more energy efficient and less dependent on foreign forces.
"The times that have really … That I'll never be able to forget are when our sailors and Marines who were killed in action come back," said Mabus.
He was there when 30 troops came home in caskets in 2011.
"Being with their families when they come back is something that changes you, and you'll remember forever," Mabus said.
It is why he makes big moves, which draw a lot of heat.
"They died defending this country," he added.
It is the price of freedom, and it is one cost he wants America to cut down on.