Career Naval Officer
In the Navy, everyone has a warfare specialty. Mine was flying off aircraft carriers all around the world. I sat in the right seat of the S-3B Viking aircraft. I communicated on the radios, navigated thousands of miles, worked the radar, and deployed weapons. When the Bosnian War erupted in September 1995, I was there, and was decorated for service in combat. When I wasn’t flying, I did lots of other stuff in squadrons and on staffs. I ran the public relations office for a jet squadron, ensuring weekly story placement in local newspapers and magazines. I even got us covered in the national newspaper Navy Times when we hit 25 years of accident-free flying. I ran the personnel office, administration department, operations department, and executive office of a 300-man organization, managed all the flight qualifications for 50 crewmembers, and authored messages, operations orders, and organizational doctrine. My bosses routinely called on me to write sensitive high-level correspondence. In the Pentagon, I was the personal assistant and event manager for several high-ranking foreign diplomats. I planned their travel itineraries, accommodations, and social events when they visited our Secretary of Defense, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Chief of Naval Operations. I arranged their security details and all facets of their visits throughout the United States. Before I retired, I worked for the federal Inspector General, auditing the readiness of military and civilian organizations.
The S-3B Viking on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, ready to launch.
After the Navy
After I hung up my shoulder boards, I wanted to parlay the writing experience I'd gained in the Navy into something I could do in the civilian sector. I got a job as a speech writer working for a contractor at the Naval Air Station in Patuxent River, Md. We supported the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), which buys and tests all the aircraft and weapon systems in the Navy. The command needed a vision document showing the way forward for U.S. naval aviation. As the managing editor, I pulled together a team of supporting writers, message influencers, and visual artists to develop Naval Aviation Vision 2030, doing much of the research and writing myself. We updated and published this document every two years for a decade. Along the way, I wrote speeches, briefs, personal letters, and professional recommendations for the many admirals and government executives in charge. When the command developed their website, they needed “good news” stories on employees, aircraft systems, and procurement solutions. My team of writers and videographers researched and developed those stories and got them posted on the web. Every year, a new trade show exhibit had to be developed for the Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington, DC. My team of writers and graphic artists did that too, writing copy, developing marketing materials, and designing booth architectures that communicated NAVAIR's mission, vision and guiding principles. For ten years, I was the “go-to” writer and message integrator for the leaders of this $30B organization. Many times I converted mere concepts and ideas into easy-to-understand language for the benefit of internal and external audiences.