When I was in high school, I decided that I was interested in the Navy ROTC program as a way to pay for school. It was an interesting opportunity to do some things and serve the country. I got accepted to the Navy ROTC program at the University of Illinois. I was a nuclear engineering major, so it was a pretty natural fit to go into the Navy’s nuclear power program.
I’ve actually served on three submarines — the USS Kamehameha, the USS Buffalo and the USS Louisville. I’ve been serving in submarines for 18 years, and I’ve followed a fairly standard career path: junior officer to department head to executive officer, and now I’m a deputy commander at Submarine Squadron Three in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
I’m charged with readiness, which primarily involves the material readiness and manning of the submarines. I help the submarine crews coordinate with our maintenance activities here in Pearl Harbor. I make arrangements if they need parts or need assistance to keep them on track with their schedule and with the execution of their mission.
On a day-to-day basis I’m involved in the technical side of the business, whether that be the repair, maintenance and operation of the reactor plant, or the weapons system, sonar, fire control, the navigation — all of the gear on board. So, in order to do that, I have to understand the operational side, too. I have to understand what they need this particular piece of equipment for and how it is incorporated within the boat. So just the understanding of how the ships work, what they do at sea, those are kind of the two big skill sets that I use every day as far as from a technical and tactical side.
I’ve been pretty lucky in my last few jobs to have served with some really great, great people. No matter what they joined for, or what their background is, I think all the Sailors onboard really want to be a part of something worthwhile. It’s rare to find a group of people who are as talented and driven and dedicated to the cause. It’s a privilege to come to work with guys who are good at their job, care a lot and work hard. You don’t find that everywhere.