And the Lord answered me, and said, “Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. (Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV)
Photos By Mike DiMestico
OWNING THE MOMENT
DALLAS — In case you don’t know her, CDR Theresa Carpenter would like to introduce herself.
A native of Columbus, Ohio, Carpenter enlisted in the United States Navy in 1996 as an Aviation Electrician’s Mate (or Aircrewman).
Her first assignment was to the Operational Maintenance Division at Naval Air Station in Keflavik, Iceland during which she worked on electrical systems on the Navy P-3 Orion.
Then, in 2000, she reported to Sea Control Squadron (VS) 35, which deployed on USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
Consequently, CDR Carpenter in September 2002 was selected for the Seamen-to-Admiral 21 program, during which she acquired a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Communications from Worcester State College in Massachusetts. She was commissioned in 2006, which gave way to her having reported to duty in Hawaii onboard USS Russell (DDG 59), where she would ultimately earn her Surface Warfare Officer qualification.
CDR CARPENTER’S DEFINING MOMENT: https://www.theresatapestries.com/blog/my-remarks-at-my-navy-promotion-ceremony
CDR Carpenter then reported to Commander at U.S. Pacific Fleet and was eventually selected as a Navy Public Affairs Officer in May 2008.
She would go on to serve as fleet community relations director, coordinating multiple senior leader engagements and running the aircraft carrier distinguished visitor program, for which the command received the 2009 RADM Thompson-Ravitz Award, a notable Navy award bestowed on programs which demonstrate public affairs excellence.
Then in April 2010, CDR Carpenter reported to U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (or INDOPACOM), during which she worked as a media officer during Japan’s Operation Tomodachi.
During this stint, she was responsible for coordinating commander engagements and strategic communication efforts with the Office of the Secretary of Defense and component command public affairs.
In addition, CDR Carpenter had become a fixture for having created crisis communication messaging for response to an almost simultaneous humanitarian crisis, earthquake, nuclear reactor explosion, and tsunami. During her assignment at INDOPACOM, in fact, she created the command’s first integrated, proactive communication plan tying strategic messaging to media events and internal products.
Three years later, CDR Carpenter assumed duties as the public affairs officer for the Boxer Amphibious Ready Group, providing Navy strategic communication guidance for nearly 3,500 Marines and Sailors.
A Spring 2016 graduate of San Diego State University with a Master of Arts Degree in Mass Communication and Media Studies, I CDR Carpenter reported to USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) as the media department head and public affairs officer in July 2016. While onboard, she deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and supported Exercise Malabar and the Three-Carrier Strike Force Exercise. This milestone tour subsequently culminated in her team winning 17 Navy and DOD communication awards.
Not to be outdone, CDR Carpenter — beginning in July 2018 — served as first PAO for Commander, Carrier Strike Group 15 (CSG 15), during which she built a foundation for a four-person media team. Interestingly enough, she is the first integrated phase public affairs trainer for the OPTASK VI program.
Then in September 2020, CDR Carpenter assumed duties as an operational planner and public affairs officer for Joint Planning Support Element, where she customarily provides ready, tailored, rapidly deployable joint planners and public affairs professionals with expertise to increase the effectiveness of a joint force headquarters during emerging operations.
Generally, CDR Carpenter’s personal awards include one Joint Meritorious Service Medal, one Joint Commendation Medal, three Navy Commendation Medals, one Joint Achievement Medal, four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals and numerous campaign medals.
A graduate of the Naval War College with a Master of Arts Degree in National Security and Strategic Studies, (specializing in Information Operations), CDR Carpenter acquired an accreditation in public relations (with a military emphasis) from the Public Relations Society of America.
CDR THERESA CARPENTER’S NAVY PROMOTION CEREMONY ADDRESS
(In Her Own Words On September 25, 2021)
I know some people prefer reading over watching so below are the remarks from my promotion ceremony Friday. I posted them because I hope the words might inspire others to be of service and give back. We all play a part in making a difference, no matter how big, or how small. Special thanks to Rena Lewis, David Bartley, and Ben Tisdale for reviewing what was my first prepared speech.
Thank you, Rosie, for the kind introduction, and hello everyone. I know we have some celebrating to do (and a dance floor in our future) but I wanted to take this special moment to share a few brief comments about my journey in the Navy and the important people who helped guide, encourage and support my path. I want to thank Rosie again for graciously agreeing to administer my oath. She exemplifies everything that’s right about the Navy, leadership, and just overall how to be a courageous human being. I am so blessed that our paths crossed. Harry, you are my rock, my soulmate, and the reason I look forward to each day. The life we get to share together is such an amazing gift, and it’s unreal that midlife I found such a strong, caring, and thoughtful man. I also want to give a grateful shout-out to my parents Charles and Carolyn Pickard, who raised me with the moral compass I have today and who are always cheering me on.
Now, while this ceremony may seem as if it’s about celebrating me, I prefer to see it as a celebration of the Navy and the people who serve. In my 25 years of service, I have been able to experience events that have shaped the course of history. From being on the aircraft carrier that commenced operations during the conflict in Iraq to assisting Navy Seals, Army Special Forces and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to end terrorism, my service and that of many others who serve our nation is a testament to the human spirit and the extraordinary things that ordinary people can accomplish by working together.
It’s an outcome that I never would have imagined growing up in Columbus, Ohio, a town not too familiar with military service and frankly with me on a path that looked more like jail time than one where I would have a tremendous opportunity to give back. I can remember one evening out with friends where they looked at me with great curiosity and wondered how somebody like me who resented authority, partied every night, and carelessly threw money away on expensive clothing was going to join the military, embrace additional responsibilities, and take orders. Thankfully, I had a few friends who despite my dead-end prospects at home encouraged me to enlist and while not knowing anything about the Navy, I took the plunge.
I joined the service following a tradition that goes back 244 years born out of a desire for freedom. Freedom to operate as an independent nation. I celebrate that freedom, and I never take for granted our mission as a Navy. In fact, our mission statement explicitly states that alongside our allies and partners, we defend freedom, preserve economic prosperity, and keep the seas open and free. It goes back to our history of a nation to decide for ourselves how we wanted to be governed and it’s a value I hold dear. It’s also why I join causes that advocate policy changes using legislation to push that change. We all have that responsibility as citizens to exercise our rights to peacefully and respectfully debate public policy. We can be civil and disagree, but we must always put kindness and empathy first.
The leaders I have most admired had those traits and were not afraid to fail, they empowered their teams, and they passed along their knowledge. These were the kind of leaders I knew I wanted to one day become. I took the lessons they gave me and used the leadership and responsibility at whatever pay grade I was at to make the Navy and myself better. After all, we all play a part. That’s why we are here. Our overall purpose as a society is to elevate those around us and raise our collective consciousness. I will continue to pass forward my lessons learned and best practices so that one day when I retire from the Navy, those coming behind me will be best prepared to take my place. That’s the cycle of life.
I will close with a story about Ron Deanne, who unfortunately could not be here today. Ron is a dear friend of mine and a seasoned contractor who assisted us aviation electricians while on deployment when we faced a maintenance discrepancy beyond our expertise. One day, while stuck in the back of our S-3B Viking aircraft toiling away in the stifling heat in the Middle East fixing a Flight Control Unit, Ron asked me what I wanted to do. It was the height of the war in Iraq and tensions were high in my work center due to the stress of being in a combat zone. I could barely think about what I was doing each day, let alone my future. I looked at him and was confused. What did he mean? I was taken aback, got defensive and told him I was working on my Enlisted Surface Warfare Qualification. At the time, I was qualified to inspect the aircraft before they launched off the flight deck and in my mind wasn’t I doing everything I was supposed to do? He looked at me in his kind and gentle way and simply said, “No, what are you doing to get to where you really want to be in life because this isn’t it for you Theresa, and you have to take what you love doing and use that as a way to be of greater service.” Well Ron, I think I figured it out. And, I have you and so many others to thank for helping me get here and will continue learning and growing from the seeds that you all firmly planted, in my heart, in my mind, and in my life for which I will be grateful. Thank you all so very much. — CDR Theresa Carpenter
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