Veteran Spotlight: Meet U.S. Navy Veteran (Chief Petty Officer Retired) Don

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Don is a Principal Industrial Security Analyst, Security Operations at Northrop Grumman. Since joining the company in 2007, he has held roles of increasing responsibility within the Security organization. Chief Petty Officer Retired Don served his country as a member of the U.S. Navy for 24 years from 1982-2006 and distinguished himself as a Parachute Rigger (PR) Aviation Life Support System Expert. He was assigned to Atsugi, Japan for 20 consecutive years from 1986 to 2006 until his retirement. During that time, he earned Three Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medals, Four Navy Achievement Medals, a Southwest Asia Service Medal, and a Global War on Terrorism Medal. He then served on the USS Blue Ridge (LCC-19) with Helsuppron One Det Six (SH-3G) then deployed to Japan and served on USS Independence (CV-62) with F/A-18C Aircraft (VFA-192).

How long have you been with Northrop Grumman? How did you hear about us?

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I’m working toward my tenth year with Northrop Grumman. I became aware of the company just by working in aviation while in the U.S. Navy. I actually visited St. Augustine Northrop Grumman several times when I was in town on business trips. I always thought that someday when I get out of the service, I would really like to come to work for Northrop Grumman as a Parachute Rigger. Those that I had conversations with at Northrop Grumman always spoke very highly of their choice. Even though my career path would end up being with the Security organization, it has been nothing short of an incredible experience.

What is your military background? How did your military background set you up for the role you are in now?

After enlisting into the U.S. Navy in 1982, I spent four years with VT-24 as a Parachute Rigger Technician. Working on TA-4J Aircraft that train the U.S. Navy fighter pilots. It allowed me to develop my skills of aircraft and gave me the opportunity to work with the best student pilots that eventually became our war fighter pilots in the fleet.  The technical training, military deployments and especially my advancement to the rank of Chief Petty Office, has given me a solid foundation to quickly pick up and understand the aspects of all Security operations. My  initiative, attention to detail and unwavering integrity taught to me by the U.S. Navy has been pivotal to my success and the rest of the Security team. This translates well with Northrop Grumman Security because what we do here is mission critical and provides a safe and friendly environment for all employees to work in. 

What was your experience transitioning to Northrop Grumman as a veteran?

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I would have to say, it took a different course than when I was expecting. It was slow and a little stressful. I was hired on as Northrop Grumman Proprietary Armed Officer only to be laid off after four years. I transitioned to Pinkerton Government Security Services as a contractor on site and promoted to Assistant Site Supervisor for four years. I was rehired again with Northrop Grumman in 2015 as an Industrial Security Company Security Analyst overlooking the security guard force that I actually previous worked for. It’s a big change from military to civilian as in the military you really are never laid off in general. You needed to be patient when being hired into Aerospace. It took me four years to get back where I am today and applying to various roles, but the patience paid off. I was recognized by the Northrop Grumman Security Department for my professionalism and candor and once rehired, it has paid dividends, as I have been fortunate to have some great leaders who saw potential in me and helped me grow and excel in my career.

What do you hope to gain from your new role?

 In my role, I hope to continue making a difference for those in the military and to my team members, even though I retired as a Navy Chief and the best rate in the navy “Parachute Rigger.” What we work on and do here for the military at Northrop Grumman is nothing less than amazing. I strive to make positive changes for our Security Team and be recognized as the best Security organization in Northrop Grumman.

What advice would you give to other veterans interested in a career in Northrop Grumman?

Start now. It is never too late to prepare yourself for that next step in your career. From my experience, taking those jobs that may not be your passion and stressful to you and your family, will do nothing but open doors for you and your family. As a fellow veteran, we have the unwavering integrity that Northrop Grumman needs and wants. Giving back to the war fighters is just an added plus.

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