By Lt. Adam Johnson, Public Affairs, Navy Supply Corps School
Vice Commander, NAVSUP, Michael Madden visited the Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) in June to attend the second Battalion Basic Qualification Course (BQC) and 94th Company Naval Reserve graduation as the guest speaker.
Following the ceremony and a tour of the schoolhouse, Madden sat down with NSCS Public Affairs for a short interview reviewing his career, specifically his time as an instructor at NSCS Athens, Georgia.
“I reported to Athens in December 1982. Back then, the choices were made for you. They said they wanted to send me to teach, so I did,” said Madden with a humble smile.
He went on to explain the different responsibilities he assumed while serving his first shore duty.
“I was originally assigned as the base supply officer and disbursing officer. I attended the commanding officer’s department head meetings as a Lieutenant junior grade along with the academic director, the public works officer, and the chaplain. After about eight months, I transferred over to instructor duty and taught disbursing management for the remainder of my tour. Overall, it was a good opportunity to go back and have influence on the future of the Supply Corps. As a matter of fact, in one of the battalions I taught, there was a guy by the name of Jon Yuen.”
As the highest ranking civilian in NAVSUP, Madden worked side-by-side with his former student, the 47th Chief of the Supply Corps, Rear Adm. Jonathan Yuen. It was not the first time they had crossed paths since 1982. Shortly after his retirement from active duty in 1999 as a Commander, Madden was recruited as NAVSUP deputy comptroller. “When I took over as Comptroller, Rear Adm. Yuen served as my deputy.”
Madden continued to comment on some of the other influential relationships he made throughout his time as a Supply Corps officer.
“The interaction with people has been the highlight of my career. When I was on the USS Forrestal (CV 59), for my first tour, there was supply officer by the name of Don Hickman. Don Hickman later became Chief of the Supply Corps. My roommate aboard, Bill McGuire, became a one-star in the Supply Corps. At supply school, I taught with Mike Lyden. Mike became a Chief, as well. I’ve worked with a lot of quality people throughout my career, and learned a lot from all of them as I came up.”
[caption id="attachment_8459" align="aligncenter" width="500"]
Mike Madden, NAVSUP Vice Commander, addresses students and guests at the June graduation of 2nd Battalion BQC Students and 94th Company Reservists. –photo by Lt. Adam Johnson, NSCS PAO
When asked for his fondest memory from instructor duty, Madden described a jovial account of the staff softball team.
“There was an instructor team that existed already, but you had to try out for it. Their whole point of view was to beat the students every time we played them, which meant a lot of people weren’t involved. So we stood up a team called the “Non-sliders.” Down in Georgia, in August, in the red clay, if you slide, you’d have a strawberry on your leg for about three weeks. Anyway, we tried to bring a little fun to that environment. We didn’t take the game nearly as seriously, and we got a lot of people to come out who wouldn’t normally participate.”
Wrapping up the interview, Madden discussed some of the core tenets that he focused on to prepare students for sea, and that he carried with him throughout his career.
“I think there are a few different aspects of it. There are the physical aspects; it’s a demanding environment. You have to be ready for the long hours and still remain sharp and make decisions. I’ll use the term spiritual, but you’ve also got to have your head in the right place; this is not an easy job. You have to give yourself over to being afloat when you’re afloat. Lastly, there’s being a professional—knowing the business that you’re in and being able to find solutions in the ruleset that you have without breaking or bending it. There is always a way forward, but you have to do it the right way.”
The final question to Madden was addressed in regard to the students, the next generation of Supply Corps officers he had just helped certify “Ready for Sea.”
“What advice do you have for them?” His answer was fitting for that day’s environment.
“The one thing that the Supply Corps has always been good at is innovation. Every time we encounter a condition, we develop solutions to continue to give the Navy what it needs. The supply officers I grew up with were problem solvers and fleet-focused. That has always been our culture. This is your opportunity to understand the Navy, to learn your craft, and to test your leadership. It’s about exercising it and establishing your service reputation.”
In closing, Madden said, “This is a rare privilege for me to be able to come back and address an audience of the next generation of the Supply Corps. The Supply Corps has given so much to me. I enjoy the chance to give something back.”