It’s fitting that I spent my last day in uniform only steps from where I first put it on.
Last night, Jackie and I celebrated the Submarine Force’s 123rd birthday at the Naval Academy Submarine Ball in Annapolis, Maryland. Almost 9 years ago, I was inducted into the Naval Academy as a Midshipman. My time in the Navy has been a wild ride, and I got to do some incredible things. I sailed the Black Sea on a destroyer, and went under the Arctic ice on a nuclear submarine. I’ve also gotten some of the best education in the world: USNA’s Trident program, an internship in NRL’s plasma physics department, Navy nuclear training, PNEO, and years of on-the-job training aboard submarines.
It’s been fun, fulfilling, and scary. The submarine community is tight, and when I talk to other submariners I get sudden perspective about how crazy this job is. I was 24 years old, starting up reactors, driving a 2-billion-dollar ship, and leading teams of the Navy’s most talented Sailors. In the shipyard, I would routinely be the youngest person in construction meetings by 20 years! In 2018, I knew nothing about nuclear power; In 2022, I led the entire Engineering department aboard a submarine. I can’t believe I was afforded so much power and responsibility at such a young age.
I could spend this whole post writing sea stories, about sinking out at periscope depth, fighting two fires in one duty day, tagging out all the heaters on the boat for our bluenose ceremony, my division’s heroic effort to fix a noisy main engine, or my slow realization after a screw-up that we had to write an incident report. I could tell you how it felt when Will Wiley pulled a pair of gold fish out of a glass of seawater and pinned them on my chest. I won’t do that, but if you want to hear about submarines, buy me a beer.
Some Junior Officers leave the Navy bitter, but I don’t feel that way. My decision to leave was entirely personal; I was sick of living on the opposite coast as my wife. Jackie starts medical residency this summer, and this was really the only way to close the distance (there are no submarines home ported in San Francisco). I start a software development internship this summer, and I’m excited to work in a new field, but I’m grateful for every second of my short naval career, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.