Under the sea with a Miner
July 1, 2011
As a third-generation military man, Park City resident Travis Tessnow chose a different route than his father and grandfather who both served in the U.S. Air Force. He decided that he would rather travel under the sea in a submarine for the United States Navy.
Tessnow, a 2009 Park City High School graduate, will begin his junior year at Tulane University in Louisiana this fall. Last year, Tessnow joined Tulane’s Reserve Officers’ Training Core (ROTC) for the U.S. Navy, which will pay for his education with the understanding that he serve a minimum of four years in the Navy. The midshipman not only plans to fulfill that commitment, but is looking forward to a career in the Navy.
According to Tessnow, "it’s about preserving the rights we are given; everything has to be earned and if it takes protecting that, then that’s what you need to do." He added that coming from a military family with a tradition of military service was a big influence as he was growing up.
His father, Rudy Tessnow was a cadet at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and then went to flight school in Texas where he learned to train other pilots to fly aircraft like the T-37 and T-38. He reached the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and worked at Hill Air Force Base before retiring this year.
Despite growing up in a landlocked state, Tessnow loved the ocean and wanted to live closer to its shores. On July 7, his dream will come true to not only be around the ocean, but under it. Tessnow received orders to report to Bangor Naval Base in Seattle, where he will board an Ohio Class ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). For the next month will be shadow an enlisted sailor, "learning what he goes through and his day-to-day duties."
The Ohio Class is the largest submarine in the U.S. Navy and has the capacity to launch cruise or Trident missiles at designated land or sea targets. At any time, the 18 ships in its class can become the most dangerous weapons in the world. They were built to carry Trident missiles with nuclear warheads attached. So far, though, they have primarily served as a deterrent that roams underneath the sea discouraging nations such as North Korea and Iran from considering any aggressive military moves. In fact, the USS Florida off the coast of Libya in March became the first Ohio Class submarine to fire TLAMs (Tomahawk Land to Air Missiles) in a conflict. Its assignment was to target the air-to-air missile sites that were posing a threat to military aircraft carrying out a UN resolution to protect civilians from Colonel Ghadaffi’s advancing forces.
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For now Tessnow’s sea venture is strictly for training purposes inside the 560 foot nuclear submarine. Any information about where he might go or exactly which submarine he will be on is classified.
As to his future in the Navy, he says it is "very much open, I will do whatever they want me to do and I will be completely happy doing it."
Last year Tessnow was promoted to Mustering Petty Officer (MPO) in his second semester, which is roughly equivalent to a Naval Chief in ROTC ranks. He was put in charge of relaying orders to the 26 other ROTC members in his platoon. He was also given a "Daughters of the American Revolution Freedom Award" which is given to only one ROTC member at the school for leadership, military aptitude, and willingness to help others.
Along with the vigor of being in the ROTC, Tessnow is triple majoring in International Relations, Asian history, and Asian studies. He also is undertaking a minor in Mandarin Chinese.
"I love the structure that the military has to offer. I love taking orders, carrying them out, and giving them. ROTC is fundamentally about building leadership style" said Tessnow, adding, I want people to see me leading from the front rather than telling people what to do. I think that earns you more respect."