"Who are you?" That's a question I receive regularly during the course of my research. My background: I was born and raised in California. I’m well-adjusted, happily married, and have four kids. You probably wouldn't notice me if you walked by me on the street...I'm pretty normal (or so I think!)
I did have a bit of a different background growing up. I left school after 9th grade and earned my GED, shortly before earning my Eagle Scout award. I always had an interest in Russia and in early 1992, shortly after the fall of Communism, my goal of being able to visit Moscow was realized. I was sixteen years old at the time; I later spent my seventeenth and twenty-first birthdays in Moscow. I lived there over four separate periods. During the first two, I did humanitarian aid in schools and orphanages. During my third, I was an English teacher for 5th and 6th-grade children. For my final job in Moscow, I worked as an English editor/stylist for the Russian Information Agency (RIA) Novosti.
While not living in Moscow, I did an assortment of jobs back in the US. I was on a search and rescue team in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and while there attended business school in Oklahoma City, and was able to have some excellent hands-on experience during that time, including working in a chocolate factory in Fort Worth, Texas, and for a company that built and maintained sewage pumping stations in Delaware. The owner of the latter company also started private pilot lessons for us, which continued during my time in Michigan. I was an early-morning Preloader for UPS, loading the brown package trucks before they headed out for their routes for the day.
Returning from Moscow for the last time in October 1996, I set my mind to realizing a goal I had set for myself when I was a very young child: I was going to be a naval officer. Unfortunately, my unorthodox background did not provide an abundance of opportunity for a standard four-year college degree program, so I earned my degree from Regents College, SUNY, (now Excelsior College) via standardized subject-matter testing in fourteen months. I graduated (with honors) in April 1998 and started Navy Officer Candidate School three months later.
I was commissioned in October 1998. My first assignment was in Yokosuka, Japan, where I served as Electrical Officer on the USS Thach (FFG 43) and USS Gary (FFG 51).
My next tour was as the Fire Control Officer in USS Laboon (DDG 58), where I stood air defense watch over Washington DC on 9/11 (a day I will never forget.) In 2003, I reported for a three-year tour in the Naval Academy’s LEAD program. LEAD stands for “Leadership and Educational Development” and the tour began with spending a year earning an MS degree in Leadership and Human Resources Development from the Naval Postgraduate School, followed by two years as a Company Officer. I graduated in 2004 with my MS. I worked simultaneously on my MA in National Security Studies from the Naval War College and graduated with that degree (with distinction) from the College of Command and Staff in 2005. I served as the 10th Company Officer as well as was an adjunct instructor of Leadership during the 2005 and 2006 academic years.
Following that tour, I returned to sea duty. I became the Weapons Officer on the USS Cole (DDG 67). In October 2008, I became the Combat Systems Officer, also on Cole, and held that job until I departed the ship in December 2009. I next served as the lead for the Information Assurance Support Cell, responsible for improving computer network security in the Atlantic surface fleet. Finally, I spent the last year of my time in the Navy on the personal staff of the two-star admiral commanding the surface forces (all the ships, except for aircraft carriers and submarines) of the Atlantic fleet.
I was honorably discharged at the end of June 2011 and that same month became manager of the Shiloh I Wind Power Project in Northern California, responsible for producing enough electricity for 55,000 houses. I enjoyed this job immensely, as well as the opportunity to get involved in my local community. I was privileged to be nominated to become a commissioner on my county’s Civil Service Commission, am a Naval Academy Information (Blue and Gold) Officer, and was a board member for the Fairfield-Suisun Chamber of Commerce.
In February 2014, I left my position in Northern California and moved to Southern California, working for the same fantastic company but managing a wind plant in the beautiful high desert near Lancaster.
A little over three years later, life changed again as I returned to active duty in the Navy. In October 2017, I was reinstated in the Navy at my former rank and received orders to Afloat Training Group, Norfolk, where I served as the Director of Combat Systems Training. In June 2019, I transferred to become the Materiel Readiness Officer for Carrier Strike Group EIGHT. Promoted to Commander, I retired from the Navy in July 2021. I now work for Booz Allen Hamilton, working in the renewable and resilient energy sectors.
Here’s a link to my profile on LinkedIn.
Feel free to add me to your network!
In November 2014, my local hometown paper published a story about my research. I think it's quite good. Click on the image to the left to read it.
And that’s more than you probably ever wanted to know about me, but believe it or not, these are all questions I’ve been asked since my research started and I need to prove to many people that I am not some fly-by-night guy trying to scam unwitting families (believe me, I have dealt with some very, very justifiably cautious families out there!)