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The Accidental Journey

By Dave Boyle

This article is dedicated to anyone who has veered off the “traditional” path.

One of my earliest memories was my mother explaining what an ichthyologist did. It was the same year that I caught my first tropical fish. I was five, but I still remember wanting to be an “ickyologist,” better known as my childhood version of a fish scientist.

In 1968, my father worked for Union Carbide and took an opportunity in the Caribbean leading sales for their batteries division. Over the next few years, my older brother and I kept several fish tanks with vibrant tropical marine animals that we caught while our family was living in Puerto Rico. I loved the ocean so much that 13 years later I majored in marine biology at Stockton University in Pomona, New Jersey.

When I graduated college in the mid 80s, the job market wasn’t great, especially for those with a marine biology degree (sadly, Jacques Cousteau wasn’t hiring). After working for the New Jersey Mosquito Control for three months, a good friend who was in flight school in Pensacola, Florida, recommended I visit a local Navy recruiter. The next day, the recruiter and I discussed what the Navy had to offer. We talked about the SEAL program, life on submarines, life on surface ships, and finally, naval aviation. 

Cue: My first big career change. 15 years after catching my first fish, plus four months of re-learning everything that I thought I knew from a USMC drill instructor, I graduated from aviation officer candidate school and received my commission as a U.S. Navy officer. 18 months later, I completed flight training and was designated a naval aviator.

dave squadron

LTJG Dave Boyle and HSL-47 (my first squadron) squadron mate LTJG Jamie Gimber, Atsugi, Japan, 1991

Throughout my 20 years in the Navy, my love of the ocean never wavered. I was afforded the opportunity to see more sea life and travel across more oceans than most marine biologists get to experience in a lifetime. One time, when flying a mission during Desert Storm, we were focused on looking for floating mines – because the Persian Gulf was so glassy, we were picking up all kinds of radar returns. While investigating one of them, we couldn’t see anything until we were up close and on top of what turned out to be a shark feeding frenzy. I’d never seen that many sharks in one place, and it was awesome.

When I had children – another big life change – I was able to share my passion with them, and all the sea stories that seemed to come out when we were vacationing at the beach. Today, both of my daughters love the ocean and everything it has to offer.

dave daughter

My daughter Katie holding up a Megalodon tooth fossil she found at Onslow Beach, Camp Lejeune, North Carolina

dave daughters

Vacationing with my daughters Katie and Colleen in Mount Rainier, Washington

Retiring from the Navy was another big change. My transition to corporate America was typical. I interviewed with several companies, and ultimately, I chose Lockheed Martin. What struck me most were the people that I interviewed with. The business felt like a small business, everyone was very welcoming, and it just felt right.

Now, I lead business development for the antisubmarine warfare market segment. I may not get to scuba dive or walk the beach every day, but I do get to do some pretty cool things in the undersea world, all while helping shape the Navy of our future.

So, what’s my best career advice? Don’t be afraid to take chances and try something different because you can always stay true to what you’re passionate about. Know that if you work hard and take advantage of every opportunity, each turn you take in life will present new and rewarding opportunities.

About the Author:
Dave Boyle is a director in Lockheed Martin’s Antisubmarine Warfare & Undersea Integration Program. See how you can work with Dave here.

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