- Published on Saturday, 10 November 2012 14:36
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Commander Shawn Cowan was commissioned in 1993 at age 21, after he completed his Bachelor’s in Social and Decision Sciences and Political Science at Carnegie Mellon University. He joined the Navy because he really wanted to fly, and apparently he thought that flying would be easier than racecar driving. He also wanted to fly F-14s and the Navy offered him scholarships for college. The day he was commissioned he was exhilarated and very proud of himself. His parents were also happy for him and were immensely overjoyed that he joined the military, as his father was in the Marines.
During Shawn’s military career, he flew F-14’s and F/A-18’s, (which you might know as Tomcats and Super Hornets), he taught new navigators, he was in charge of flight operations on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier, as well as air traffic control, and he is currently helping design new systems for the Navy. His proudest moment was when he earned his wings in 1995.
Shawn received his Master’s in Human Systems Integration in 2009 at the Naval Post-Graduate School in Monterey, California.
Unfortunately, Shawn was on deployment often and had to move a lot as a result of his job. To him, thinking and dreaming about the Navy was very different from actually being in the Navy. Before joining, he only thought about the flying, he never paid much attention to the other aspects of the military. He said that his favorite memory was coming home from deployment to see his wife, Kristy, and his two children, Chase and Cameron.
Some conflicts he was a part of were, Operation Southern Watch, which took place after the 1st Gulf War and before the Iraq war. He was also a part of Operation Enduring Freedom (the Afghanistan war), and Operation Iraqi Freedom (the war in Iraq), which are both currently still in action today.
In our lives there are always times we feel scared or distressed and I always felt that that would especially happen in the military. Shawn shared one of his scariest moments during his career. “[Once], we almost crashed into the back of the boat [aircraft carrier, USS John C. Stennis], at night when it was stormy. The deck was pitching up and down and the tailhook hit the back of the boat and ripped off, so we couldn’t land on the back of the boat and had to fly to a nearby base on land.”
Shawn said that he had a lot of fun on deployment, and they used to play a ton of pranks on each other. They would steal each other’s mattresses and lock each other into their rooms by shoving pennies into the crack between the door and the doorframe, successfully locking them in until ever penny was removed.
Shawn said he has never regretted joining the military and when he retires, after his daughter, Cameron, is out of high school, in 2017 he will have been in the military for over 22 years. If he could do everything all over again, Shawn said that, “Yes, [he would do it all over again] because even though I missed being away from my family, I thought the job I was doing was important, I learned a lot, and I had a lot of fun.”
Shawn said that, “[So far] being in the military has been great. It was an adventure but I do regret the time I spent away from my family. I wish I hadn’t missed so many birthdays, recitals, and other special moments, but that is the sacrifice that both myself and my family have had to pay to serve our great nation.”
On deployment, Shawn visited many places including: England, Italy, Australia, Spain, Greece, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Bahrain, Dubai, Guam, and France.
Shawn plans on retiring in King George, Virginia, and wants to become a Navy civilian who will help design new systems for sailors.