DAHLGREN, Va. – Why would a civilian engineer content with an exciting and rewarding career along with the ability to come home to his family every night plan to join the Naval reserves?
Dillard Patton answered the question after following through with his plan at a ceremony where he was commissioned a U.S. Navy ensign in front of family, friends, and coworkers at the Aegis Training and Readiness Center, Sept. 11.
Judging from his rapid fire response – a lot of thought went into his decision to join the ranks of Naval reservists.
“I voluntarily chose to accept this obligation, and the accompanying responsibilities, because I felt this is the most effective way for me to make a difference,” said Patton, the principal for safety at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) System Safety Engineering Division.
It never occurred to the reservist that he would make a commitment to the Navy as a government civilian engineer or commissioned officer when he began his bachelor’s degree studies at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in 2007.
“While in this environment, I realized that my education was the tool I needed to shape my future,” said Patton. Through dedication and hard-work, he obtained a bachelor of science degree with a dual major in mechanical engineering and physics with a minor in mathematical sciences in four years.
Patton received four awards for academic achievement and extracurricular community service activities while at VCU. As a junior, he was named the 2010 Richmond Joint Engineers Council Scholar of the year.
What’s more, the engineer is still being recognized for his academic achievements. Ten days after his commission into the reserves, he was honored at the NSWCDD Academic Recognition Ceremony for completing his master’s degree in systems engineering and two professional certifications – a system safety certification and an associate systems engineering professional certification. He is currently pursuing his doctor of philosophy in systems engineering at Old Dominion University.
Since he graduated from VCU with a bachelor of science degree with a double major in mechanical engineering and physics, Patton has been making a difference for the Navy as a civilian in various Naval Sea System Command engineering positions from the Norfolk Naval Shipyard to NSWCDD.
Now Patton expects his impact on the Navy and joint forces will significantly expand. In his new role as a reservist, he intends to apply the experience accumulated throughout his civilian career to bridge the gap between the engineering and operational naval communities.
“This will better facilitate the acquisition and design of safe and effective systems employed by the U.S. Navy, allowing the Navy to maintain its position of maritime superiority,” said Patton. “By doing so, I'm also contributing to the protection of the freedom, personal liberty, and economic prosperity that is cherished by all individuals residing within the United States, as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
In order to protect the freedoms and liberties Americans enjoy, the husband and father will be challenged with balancing civilian work and family life while meeting his military responsibilities.
Patton, however, is focusing on his ability – and the ability of the nation’s joint forces – to victoriously meet their challenges with sacrifice, determination, and core values.
“We are victorious because we are faithful to these core values (honor, courage, and commitment) not only when serving on official duty, but also in our personal lives,” Patton told his audience at the ceremony. “I encourage every individual in this room to consider how these (U.S. Navy) core values impact your lives.”
The engineer – commissioned through the Direct Commission Officer program – will be meeting his responsibilities at a Surge Maintenance (SurgeMain) reserve component of Sailors based in Richmond, Va. The SurgeMain reserve unit becomes a mobilization force when the Navy needs to "surge" its maintenance infrastructure to support Fleet readiness and the Fleet Response Plan.
Specifically, Patton was commissioned into the Navy’s Engineering Duty Officer (EDO) community. EDOs – technical leaders who are highly educated and have a broad continuum of operational experience and engineering expertise – develop system-engineered, cost effective solutions to meet Fleet warfighting requirements. This unique cadre of officers lead the Navy’s integration of research and development, design, acquisition, construction, modernization, and life cycle management.
In his civilian position, Patton supports the Program Executive Office for Integrated Warfare Systems as the principal for safety for the next generation Guided Missile Frigate (FFG(X)) program with cognizance over integrated combat systems. He is also the FFG(X) principal for safety in support of Program Manager - Ships 515 with cognizance over weapons and explosives integration during acquisition lifecycle phases prior to the sustainment lifecycle phase.