Call to Service: Rising to Flag Rank
The call came in during supper, and Lizann Messerschmidt answered
the phone. When the caller asked for her husband, John, she started
to say that he was busy (and didn't he know that it was dinner
hour?). Quickly, the caller said that this was one call he
thought John would want to take. Minutes later, John Messerschmidt
learned he'd been selected for promotion to Rear Admiral in the
U.S. Navy Reserve. He was one of only six Navy reservists who were
promoted to flag rank in 2006.
Messerschmidt had been preparing for this call most of his life.
He started his military career in 1975 as a midshipman at the U.S.
Naval Academy and pursued a career in submarines following graduation.
After successfully completing the Navy's rigorous nuclear power
training program, Messerschmidt served aboard a ballistic missile
submarine, and later became an acquisition officer at the Space
and Naval Warfare Systems Command. He managed a number of contracts
related to submarine communications, and it was there he became
familiar with MITRE.
At the time, MITRE was building a submarine communications department
and Messerschmidt, deciding to leave active duty, found a good home
here. "I liked what MITRE was all about—the objectivity, helping
make the government customer a smarter buyer, and bringing value
to the projects and programs we support." Throughout his career
here, he has worked on various projects supporting the submarine
force, including revolutionary fly-by-wire ship control systems
for the Sea Wolf and Virginia class submarines.
"I've always worked on real systems that actually go to sea,"
he says. "I've spent my entire 20 years at MITRE on things that
support the warfighter."
Even after Messerschmidt began his MITRE career, he continued
his service to the Navy in the reserve component. During his impressive
military career, he has commanded five reserve units, won numerous
awards—including two meritorious unit commendations—and
served in a variety of positions, including Reserve Chief of Staff,
Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, and Deputy Commander of Naval
Reserve Readiness Command Midwest, a six-state region with more
than 8,500 Navy reservists. He is currently serving as Vice Commander,
Naval Submarine Forces.
A Supportive Team
Messerschmidt notes that a lot of people helped make his reserve
career a success. "I certainly couldn't have done this without the
support of my family," he says. He and his wife Lizann, a MITRE
department head, have three sons, Kory, Connor, and Colin. "And
I owe a lot to MITRE. MITRE has given me a lot of tether as my Navy
responsibilities have grown. Everyone always understood I had a
second career—a significant second career—and they've
helped me make it work.
"Since putting on my star, people often ask, 'How's MITRE taking
it?' The way they've always taken it. Not a lot of other companies
would have given me the support and unconditional flexibility I
needed to advance in my reserve career. I really don't think I would
have made flag rank somewhere else."
His managers and coworkers are pleased with Messerschmidt's success
in the Navy. "He's worked very hard in the Naval Reserves—this
promotion is the result of significant personal commitment," says
Mike Brock, executive director of MITRE's Naval Program Directorate.
"Also, his insight into Navy issues at the senior leadership level
is very valuable. He's got a viewpoint many of us don't have."
"I've known John for almost 15 years, and he's always impressed
me with his wealth of knowledge," says Varley Wrick, associate executive
director for MITRE's Naval Program Directorate and Messerschmidt's
manager. "He not only has a great command of sponsor issues, but
complex technical issues, too. It would be difficult not to be impressed
with John. Family, MITRE, military—he's been able to keep
it all together."
"I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead," Messerschmidt says.
"Our Guard and Reserve forces are being employed more now than ever.
I'm excited to be a part of this. It really is an honor and a privilege
to wear the uniform—and I'm delighted to have MITRE's support
during this new phase in my military career."
—by Nadine Monaco
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