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Veterans Day

Veterans Day

Mike Petters ’77
, the CEO of America’s largest military shipbuilding company, Huntington Ingalls, who donates his nearly million-dollar salary to workforce training and scholarships for children of employees, addressed the Jesuit High School student body Friday (Nov. 11) at Convocation on Veterans Day.

Petters, who also spoke to three Jesuit classes on Friday, was honored as a Lone Sailor Award recipient in 2015, a prestigious award presented by the U.S. Navy Memorial Foundation. Past recipients include U.S. presidents George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, and John Kennedy. Petters’ Lone Sailor Award biographical video is at this link:

Petters is the eldest of five brothers who all graduated from Jesuit in the 1970s and ’80s, and he earned a physics degree from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1982. As CEO of Huntington Ingalls in Newport News, Va., the only builder of aircraft carriers in the U.S., Petters made national news this year with the announcement that all but $1 of his $950,000 salary would go toward his employees and their children.

“It’s a chance to give people the chance to create a little bit different future for themselves,” said Petters, who was raised on a large orange and cattle farm in the community of St. Joe in Pasco County. “Somebody did that for me; I’m lucky enough to have the chance to do it for others.”

Friday at Convocation, with several Jesuit alumni veterans in attendance and the University of South Florida's Air Force ROTC Color Guard, Petters spoke about the value of preparation, the importance of service, and how his Jesuit background prepared him for his military and shipbuilding careers. It was a unique presentation in that Petters was introduced by Jesuit president Fr. Richard C. Hermes, S.J. while Petters was seated in the back of the gymansium among the freshmen, surprising the students. Petters then strolled the floor of the gym during his entire presentation.

In the three classes in which he guest-lectured, Petters discussed how the U.S. Navy protects global trade by monitoring the world's shipping channels, and it also secures worldwide communications by guarding the fiber optic cables crossing the bottom of the ocean.

Prior to his 29-year shipbuilding career, Petters served aboard the nuclear-powered submarine USS George Bancroft and spent five years in the U.S. Naval Reserve. In 1993, he earned an MBA from the College of William and Mary.

Petters serves on the board of directors for the U.S. Naval Academy Foundation, the National Bureau of Asian Research, and the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, the distinguished advisory board for the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation, and several other boards.

Each year, a Jesuit alumnus with a military background addresses the student body on Veterans Day. Last year it was Lt. Col. Lucien Campillo ’88 (who was in attendance Friday at Jesuit), and in 2014 it was Bruce Czaja ’85.

Please view below a photo slideshow from Veterans Day at Jesuit, and below that is the video of Petters' Convocation presentation.

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