Lives of service
A few alumni wrote to share their Ohio State stories after reading our March–April cover story on veterans. For them, college and military life were intertwined, and both have brought benefits.
They’ve served the Navy and the nation for years on parallel tracks.
By Brian Ginnane
On December 10, 1993, exactly 1,947 undergraduate diplomas were handed out in St. John Arena. Among the group were eight Navy ROTC graduates who also received their commission as ensigns in the U.S. Navy that day, including my friend Justin Debord and me.
Justin and I met during Navy ROTC orientation in September 1989. He was from Waynesfield, Ohio, and I was from Buffalo, New York. Together, we took the long trek from Converse Hall to Teck’s Barber Shop on High Street to get our first military haircut before classes started freshman year. We refined our leadership skills in Sunday sessions at Ohio Stadium, where we met our fellow Navy midshipmen at 0500 and spent the next six to eight hours cleaning up after a football game.
Our graduation from Fisher College of Business marked the beginning of careers in the business management of the Navy. We became members of the Navy Supply Corps and, ironically, our careers followed similar paths for more than 20 years.
Justin started his service as the supply officer on the USS L. Mendel Rivers, a nuclear fast-attack submarine. He followed that with tours on the submarine USS Trepang and the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower; service as an acquisition and contracting intern; and staff tours in Philadelphia, San Diego and Pearl Harbor. He earned his MBA from Michigan State University in 2005 and was honored in 2010 as a distinguished alumnus of Waynesfield-Goshen High School.
At the same time, I started my career as the supply officer on the USS Sand Lance, a nuclear-powered, fast-attack submarine. I served tours with the Washington, D.C., office that constructs submarines, as a division officer on the USS CARL VINSON and on staff assignments in Philadelphia, San Diego and Tampa. I am qualified in submarines and as a naval aviation supply officer and am considered an expert in supply chain management and business financial management for the Department of Defense. I earned my MBA in 2004 from the State University of New York at Buffalo.
After almost 20 years of service — in comparable positions of increased responsibility — Justin and I were recommended for assignment as commanders of supply departments on nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in 2012.
Justin reported to the USS CARL VINSON, and I reported to the USS RONALD REAGAN. Justin returned in June from an extended 10-month deployment to the Western Pacific and the Arabian Gulf, where the crew provided air support for coalition forces fighting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). My REAGAN crew supported the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercise that formulated a coalition of 23 nations off the coast of Hawaii, the largest maritime exercise in the Pacific theater.
We are proud of our service and the opportunity to represent Ohio State and its Reserve Officer Training Corps. We have left a mark on the sailors and airmen we have served and designed supply chain solutions to support the Navy fleet around the world.
This summer, Justin and I were promoted to the rank of captain. Not to break with tradition, we both accepted assignment to the Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime Command in Gahanna, Ohio. Justin is joined by his wife, Heather, and their two sons. I am joined by my wife, Nicole, and our three daughters and one son. My daughter Bridgette is a junior in Fisher College of Business.
It’s good to be back with Columbus — and with Justin, no less.
Brian Ginnane ’93 lives in Columbus.
He’s ‘forever thankful’ for his academic opportunities.
Tens of thousands came back from the Vietnam Theater in 1972; I chose graduate school to differentiate myself from the pack. Ohio State was a natural fit. It had the program I wanted, and my wife and newborn son stayed in Cleveland while I was overseas, so I qualified for in-state tuition.
Graduating from Xavier in 1968 with respectable grades, but nothing exceptional, I decided to advance my case by writing a personal letter to Dean Oster. He admitted me, pointing to my service record, while suggesting I come for a summer session to see whether academics still worked. Three months later, I had an assistantship, and a year later, Drs. Lynn and Allen asked me to stay for a PhD.
I will be forever thankful to what is now the John Glenn College of Public Affairs for giving me a shot. The memories are priceless and the rewards never-ending.
John McGruder ’73 MA, ’75 PhD
U.S. Army, 1968–72
Ohio State prepared him well.
I’m a volunteer and unofficial program administrator for the first Canadian Chair in Military and Clinical Rehabilitation in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.
I am assisting the chair to coordinate a longitudinal study that aims to understand and predict improved interventions for increasing resilience in soldiers in roles as a program administrator and clinical research associate. My time at Ohio State, including two years as a civilian member of the Ohio State ROTC band, prepared me well for faithful and loyal service and devotion to scientific understanding for the benefit of those in harm's way.
Dr. Richard Parrish ’80
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
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