What service were you in and how long did you serve?
After attending the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, I was commissioned as an officer in the Army National Guard and served in both the Ohio and Arizona Guard. I had the privilege to lead 60 of America’s finest as a Platoon Leader for a combat deployment to Northern Afghanistan in 2011-2012. I served for a total of 8 years.
In college, I majored in logistics and intermodal transportation, so it made sense to commission as a transportation officer in the Army. This complimented my civilian sailing career as a deck officer very well.
What endorsements do you currently hold?
I worked my way up through the ranks as a deck officer and currently hold a USCG Master unlimited license. I spent 10 years at sea aboard containerships, tankers, offshore supply vessels, semi-submersibles, and drillships prior to moving to shoreside maritime management.
What motivated you to join the military?
Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to be an officer in the U.S. military. I always had the desire to serve with and for my fellow Americans. “If not me, then who?” was a common thought that motivated accountability in me to do my duty.
Were you aware of opportunities in the maritime industry? If you were, how? If not, how did you find out?
Through a lot of luck and a desire to be an officer in the military, I was fortunate enough to attend the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy. My eyes were really opened up to both the military and the maritime field while I was there. I really had no idea of the wide variety of great jobs that existed in the maritime sector.
What elements of your service career have helped you in transitioning to a private sector US-flag maritime position?
The military hierarchy and chain of command lifestyle prepares you well for life aboard a civilian U.S.-flag ship. There are many common hardships and hilarities between the two.
Being an Army logistics officer set me up to understand the generics of how the private sector worked, but it did not prepare me for how fast-paced and innovative it would be.
Please explain the process you took to get your credential, and any recommendations you have for others leaving the military and transitioning into the maritime industry.
The military teaches you a lot of great things that absolutely apply in the maritime field, however, they lack in many areas. To succeed in the shoreside maritime sector, I suggest learning customer service and business acumen. Buckle down and be willing to learn. It will take a lot of time and money to get all the classes done to become a qualified mariner, but once you have those certifications and licenses, you are in an elite group of professionals.
What is most familiar to you in your current position relative to your rating in the service?
One thing that is common between the military and civilian maritime field is great leadership will lead to success. Take everything you learned from the military in this regard forward with you into your new career…you will find it is a rare commodity in the world.
How does the pay, benefits, and working conditions of your current job compare to your military career?
Can’t beat the even on-off time schedule you often find working on civilian ships. It is tough being away from friends and family for long stretches aboard ship, but this is something ex-military are often not bothered by. Just think of the vacations you can take having weeks off at a time when you are off the ship.
What advice would you have for a separating service member interested in this field upon leaving the military?
Show up and give a darn. Five minutes early to formation is on time in the military and that mantra will do you wonders as a civilian as well. Stay focused on your job and take pride in ownership. A lot is at stake when you are on the helm of a 1,000-foot containership, just like there was a lot at stake during your time in the military.