Thoughts on Leaving the Navy

16 Apr 2023

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.

Submarines once!

I-Day. Summer 2014

Shifting colors, underway on USS LABOON in the Black Sea. Summer 2015.

Showing the photographer how I would fly inverted during PROTRAMID. Summer 2016.

In command of Kilo Company during Plebe Summer. Summer 2017.

Playing cribbage, eating submarine sandwiches, and miming periscopes with my fellow submarine selects, Sam Haber and Eryn Culton, and submarine-qualified Plebe Tyler McGill. Fall 2017.

Acting like a Plebe one more time on “100s Night.” Winter 2018.

Dining out with 20th Company, sitting with Jackie and my roommates, Tim Abunike and Andrew Maus. Spring 2018.

The Villanova drill meet, my last event as captain of the USNA Silent Drill Team. Summer 2018.

Presenting my research at the Trident Conference. Summer 2018.

Graduating from the Naval Academy with Tim and Andrew. Summer 2018.

With my mom after graduating Prototype, where I operated my first of three reactors. Summer 2019.

Graduating Submarine Officer Basic Course in Groton, CT, with my roommates Michael Ross and Clinton Silver. Fall 2019.

With the wardroom of USS JOHN WARNER, stuck on the pier before our 2020 deployment. I’m 5th from the left. Spring 2020.

Being awarded my fish (and a medal) underway on USS JOHN WARNER. Awarding them is the CO, Will Wiley. Fall 2020.

Christening PCU NEW JERSEY with fellow JOs Michael Ross, J.B. Loomis, and Adam Kendrix. Fall 2021.

With the other submarine Junior Officers of the Year, and the Chief of Naval Operations. Spring 2022.

Visiting USS JOHN WARNER a few years after I left. The ship was anchored near the Naval Academy, in Annapolis, and Jackie and I rode out to see it. Fall 2022.

At a Navy game with Jackie. Fall 2022.

Marrying my best friend, Jackie. We got married in Summer 2019, but this photo is recent.

With Jackie at the Submarine Birthday Ball last night in Annapolis.