I always knew that I wanted to become a Marine. My father was a career Marine who served as both a jet and helicopter pilot. I admired my father and saw what an impact he made. I wanted to carry on the family tradition. I even graduated from the same college as my father--The Citadel in Charleston, SC.
After The Citadel, I attended Officer’s Candidate School for Marines in Quantico, VA. I took the test to enter the Marine Aviation Program and reported to flight school in Pensacola, FL. Flight school provided a range of options for certification on different types of aircraft.
Following in my father’s footsteps, I chose to become a CH46 helicopter pilot. This type of helicopter is primarily used for transportation in support of combat operations. I went to a Helicopter Marine Training Squadron in Jacksonville, NC, where I became certified on this aircraft. After receiving my co-pilot designation, I joined an Operational Squadron and eventually took on the responsibilities of a Helicopter Aircraft Commander. I learned everything from formation flying to confined area landings, from instrument flying to night vision flying. During this time, I had deployments in the Mediterranean where I trained with international troops. On these overseas deployments, my squadron and the helicopters they flew usually traveled on Navy ships to reach their destinations.
The Marine Corps provided me with a range of assignments and training that gave me the opportunity to gain the knowledge and experience needed to progress in my career. Some of these assignments included serving in the Presidential Helicopter Squadron and working in the field of Enlisted Assignments. In the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, I was part of a team that ensured that helicopters were ready at any moment to serve the needs of the President, Vice President, and heads of state. When I joined the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, I had to get certified on a new aircraft. During my four years with the Presidential Helicopter Squadron, I flew the President to many locations in the US and internationally. Whenever the President goes overseas, the Presidential Helicopter Squadron goes, too. In addition to flying, the members of the squadron have to take care of all of the logistics associated with any maintenance on the aircraft or design modifications. Sometimes, I conducted helicopter test flights after design modifications or maintenance repairs to check that everything was in good working order before the President could fly on the aircraft.
I also spent time in Enlisted Assignments in charge of monitors, those people responsible for assigning Marines to different jobs and locations. I enjoyed this tour because it gave me a chance to impact the lives of young Marines. I felt I was assisting the monitors in making the right decisions for both the Marine Corps and the Marines.
As part of my continuing academic education, I attended Amphibious Warfare School and Command and Staff College, both in Quantico. In addition, I received a Masters Degree in Strategic Studies from the Naval War College in Providence, RI.